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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Sanders vs. Warren; Interview With Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE); House Approves Sending Impeachment Articles to Senate. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired January 15, 2020 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:01]

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN COMMENTATOR: Yes, so it completely undermines their argument.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I can't say, look, I'm your attorney. Hey, let's go kill somebody? Oh, it's attorney-client privilege. Sorry, we can't talk about it.

That's just not how it works. And that's what they were trying to do here, it's seems.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: David, what do you make of all this stuff? Have you ever heard of this Hyde guy before?

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have not heard of him until today.

I think -- obviously, I'm sure Mr. Hyde will be getting a knock on his door from the FBI. Some of the things that he -- that are alleged to have said are obviously troubling, if it's -- this is a diplomat you're talking about.

And the things that are that -- are in those messages are troubling and very serious and need to be investigated.

WILLIAMS: The head of the Connecticut Republican Party tweeted today, just before the show, saying, whoa, whoa, whoa, I don't know if we want anything.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We have asked him to not run for Congress, yes. Hyde had some choice words for him on the flip side.

Carrie, just to go over some of these things again, just to remind people, he was sending -- so Hyde, whoever this gentleman -- he is a landscaper from Connecticut. And his -- there's lots of pictures of him with Republicans of note ,although who knows if that's meaningful or just rope lines. But in any, he says about then Ambassador Yovanovitch, she -- quote --

"She 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."

He then texted -- quote -- "The address I sent you" -- he's sending to Lev Parnas -- "The address I sent you checks out. It's next to the embassy. They're willing to help, if we/you would like a price. Guess you could do anything in the Ukraine with money. What I was told."

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, so there are -- look, it sure looks from those text messages and those messages going back and forth that he had some kind of communications with people who were doing physical surveillance, who had eyes on the ambassador.

It's really quite frightening, I mean, when we think about it as that this was a sitting ambassador. Her security really was threatening. I have a hard time believing his story that he's putting out today online.

TAPPER: That he was just joking around.

CORDERO: That he was just joking around. This is very detailed information.

And I would think that it's something that absolutely needs to be investigated as to whether or not he was putting this ambassador in a threatening environment.

TAPPER: Yes.

CORDERO: But, beyond that, I really think that the letter that was -- that has now come to light...

TAPPER: The Giuliani letter.

CORDERO: The Giuliani letter, that is absolutely central to the impeachment issue, whether or not he was using the president was using his access, and Rudy Giuliani there was his proxy, using his access to the president of Ukraine, using the official capacity for a personal private letter.

And it's right there in the letter.

TAPPER: Very quickly, David.

URBAN: I just going to say, the level of detail in that information about the ambassador is very frightening.

TAPPER: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: ... deserves...

(CROSSTALK) TAPPER: I wouldn't even know how to make jokes like that, I mean,

just about like, the computer is off, her phone is off.

POWERS: Hilarious.

TAPPER: This is a certain sophistication. They don't even have this stuff in movies.

WILLIAMS: The president's supporters all groaned at when there was this allegation of witness intimidation when this was all going on. She's going to go through some stuff. It's an actual line.

TAPPER: So, everyone, stick around.

That's right. The president said that she's going to go through some stuff.

Talk about awkward. The explanations today after Senator Elizabeth Warren passed on the handshake offered from Senator Bernie Sanders after the debate last night. What in the world were they talking about there?

Tom Steyer was no help.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:37:35]

TAPPER: In our 2020 lead today, Senator Amy Klobuchar says that there's a double standard for women in politics, but she also says she's the best candidate to be president of the United States.

There were only two women on the six-candidate debate stage last night, with maybe the biggest moment when Elizabeth Warren pointed out that the women on the stage had never lost an election, while the four men on stage had lost 10.

And, as CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports, last night's debate also showcased some of the tensions between Senator Bernie Sanders and Warren over their conversation about whether a woman could defeat President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome tonight's candidates.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day after the Democratic presidential debate in Iowa, this moment is still being dissected, Elizabeth Warren approaching Bernie Sanders, something clearly on her mind, sending a signal their feud is far from over, while walking away without a handshake.

After de-escalating days of simmering tension earlier on stage...

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie.

ZELENY: ... Warren sought to raise a concern with Sanders, his campaign said. Her aides declined to say more, preferring to keep the spotlight on whether a woman could win the White House.

WARREN: Look at the men on this stage. Collectively, they have lost 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they have been in are the women.

ZELENY: Nineteen days before the Iowa caucuses open the voting the Democratic primary the race is a free for all with no clear front- runner.

Joe Biden trying to showcase strength in the commander in chief test, slamming President Trump's rationale for killing Iran's top military commander.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he's flat-out lied about saying the reason he went after -- the reason he made the strike was because our embassies were about to be bombed.

ZELENY: But, under fire from Sanders...

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I not only voted against the war. I helped lead the effort against that war.

ZELENY: ... Biden still reconciling his 2002 to vote for the Iraq War, repeating a false claim that he opposed the war from the moment of the invasion, rather than three years later.

BIDEN: It was a mistaken vote. But I think my record overall on everything we've done has been -- I'm -- I'm prepared to compare it to anybody on this stage.

ZELENY: Pete Buttigieg arguing foreign policy judgment is more important than decades of experience.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's going to take a view to the future, as well as the readiness, to learn from the lessons of the past. And, for me, those lessons of the past are personal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[16:40:00]

ZELENY: And fighting to break into the top tier, Amy Klobuchar also argued for a reality check for some of those progressive proposals, talking about Senator Warren and Senator Sanders.

But, Jake, it was that extraordinary exchange there that was most remarkable, probably because they formed a nonaggression pact a year ago.

TAPPER: Right.

ZELENY: But it may be remarkable because it's lasted this long. Think back to the vitriol between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

This does not approach that. The question is, how do voters view this, particularly women voters, 19 days before Iowa?

TAPPER: And those progressives that I'm hearing from on Twitter as well.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

ZELENY: Sure.

TAPPER: A banner moment for President Trump and his presidency coming as his impeachment trial is about to begin.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: In our politics today, House managers, the House impeachment managers, are just moments away from presenting the articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.

And the White House is deciding right now how best to fight back, as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.

[16:45:08]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the stage set for President Trump's impeachment trial, White House officials say they're ready for a fight.

But one question remains unanswered. Who exactly will be doing the fighting?

Sources tell CNN Trump hasn't made a final decision about whether to include some of his fiercest Republican defenders on his team.

HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to get ahead of what our counsel's office is preparing for.

COLLINS: On a call with reporters today, a senior administration official repeated Trump's suggestion for an outright dismissal, though Republican say that's not likely.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There is little or no sentiment in the Republican Conference for a motion to dismiss.

COLLINS: Despite one Republican senator saying yesterday it's hard to imagine the trial will be over by the State of the Union, the White House predicts the trial won't last longer than two weeks.

As the House took its final steps on impeachment today, the president held a signing ceremony for what he says is the initial phase of a broader trade deal with China.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And, by the way, some of the congressmen may have a vote, and I don't -- it's on the impeachment hoax.

COLLINS: China is agreeing to increase purchases of American products and services by at least $200 billion over the next two years, while easing some tariffs on American products.

But the deal does not reverse the $360 billion in existing tariffs on Chinese imports, pushing up costs that some U.S. companies have complained about.

TRUMP: Together, we are righting the wrongs of the past and delivering a future of economic justice and security.

COLLINS: The signing comes after months of escalating tariffs and a trade war some feared would never end.

TRUMP: Most people thought this could never happen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Now, Jake, some people have said this agreement that the president signed today seems more like a cease-fire than an end to this trade war that you have seen playing out since he took office.

But as a sign of how much the markets are welcoming this trade deal today, this phase one that they have signed, the Dow closed above 29000 points just now for the first time in history.

TAPPER: Some good economic news.

Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

Joining me now, Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.

Senator, thanks for joining us.

In about 15 minutes, we're expecting the House impeachment managers to walk the articles of impeachment over to the Senate. Now, we don't know if this new evidence that we reported on earlier from Rudy Giuliani's associate Lev Parnas is going to be included in the impeachment trial ultimately.

Should it?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Well, Jake, thanks for the chance to be on.

All of us know that trials typically have witnesses and evidence, and particularly where one of the core issues in the trial, President Trump's campaign to block Congress' legitimate investigation, is part of what's at issue.

I will remind you, the two articles of impeachment, the first one, abuse of power, the second, obstruction of Congress, those are rooted in both President Trump's alleged actions to try and compel or shake down Ukraine to investigate, without foundation, his leading Democratic rival, Joe Biden, and the second a response to the fact that he blocked his closest advisers and Cabinet officials from testifying.

So, there should be more evidence available here at trial.

And these latest details from Lev Parnas are pretty striking and a reminder of how it really might add to the weight of these impeachment articles.

TAPPER: Your colleague Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, says that the fact that these documents were just revealed suggests that the House investigation was incomplete and the House Democrats did an incomplete job.

What do you make of that argument that this, testimony from Bolton, the e-mails from Duffey, Mulvaney, all of this should have been part of the House impeachment case and not the Senate trial for you guys to uncover?

COONS: Well, first, that sort of misses the point that part of why these documents weren't available, part of why the most important testimony from senior administration officials who were in the room at the time the president was making these decisions is because the president himself blocked them.

That didn't happen before. President Clinton, even President Nixon directed their senior advisers, their Cabinet officials to cooperate with what became their impeachment inquiries.

So let's not miss the point, the key issue here as to why this evidence wasn't available in the House was because it was blocked.

The other issue here is timing. The core issue is that President Trump is alleged to have sought foreign interference in our upcoming 2020 election.

The first votes will be cast in Iowa here just in a few weeks. There is an urgency to moving forward as a result. And so, when some of my Republican colleagues have said to me in our conversations, why didn't the House seek a subpoena, for example, for John Bolton, the House managers, I suspect, will say to us in the Senate trial that they were concerned that, if they took months and months to litigate the question of the subpoena, that the next election would already be upon us?

[16:50:02]

TAPPER: Some Republicans have been saying that if witnesses such as John Bolton are called, then Hunter Biden and others should be as well.

Now, I know you disagree with that.

COONS: Yes.

TAPPER: But what matters more is if there are four Republicans that will join you and the other 46 Democrats to demand witnesses, but not like Hunter Biden witnesses.

Are there? Are there four Republicans with you on this?

COONS: Well, we don't know yet. Or, certainly, I don't know yet.

There are a number of Republicans who have made intriguing public statements about how they think we should hear from John Bolton or they think we might consider witnesses.

But public reporting at this point is that all of them are on board with having the first two weeks of the trial, having essentially opening arguments, opening statements by the House managers and then whatever defense President Trump is going to put on, and then consider the question of if we need to hear from additional witnesses.

That strikes me as putting the cart before the horse. But if that's what 51 senators will vote for, that's what Majority Leader McConnell will get.

TAPPER: Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, thank you so much for your time, sir. Always good to see you.

COONS: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: A surprise move from Russia in today's world lead, when most of its government resigned.

Came right after President Vladimir Putin proposed a plan that would weaken the powers of his successor. In turn, the new prime minister would call the shots, more of the shots, at least, and that person could be Putin, when his term is president ends in 2024.

The outgoing prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, said his resignation today clears the way for Putin's plan to take effect. Dmitry Medvedev's exit also means that the entire Cabinet under him must leave as well.

We're standing by for Speaker Pelosi to formally sign the articles of impeachment -- why we may see a tense moment play out when those articles are delivered to the Republican-led Senate.

That's next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:56:23]

TAPPER: Any moment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will sign the articles of impeachment, and then the seven House impeachment managers, we're told, will walk over to the Senate side and attempt to deliver the articles to the Senate chamber.

Kirsten, what are you looking to see in the coming hours and days when it comes to the impeachment proceedings?

POWERS: Well, I guess, I mean, in the immediate, we need to see when the Republicans will receive the articles of impeachment.

TAPPER: Right.

POWERS: So, I mean, we assume that they will. We just don't know when that will be.

And I think the biggest question is whether or not there is going to be witnesses. And we're not going to know that for a little while, because it is a foregone conclusion, unless something spectacular happens that we haven't predicted, that he will be acquitted.

But having the witnesses, I think, could still be very meaningful and it still could have a lot of impact.

TAPPER: What do you think? What are you looking for?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think the big thing -- and Senator Coons touched on this -- like, we can't look past the president's role in obstructing this proceeding.

And this goes back. This is not 1999.

TAPPER: The trial? In obstructing the trial or...

WILLIAMS: Obstructing the impeachment from the beginning.

We have not seen documents. Agencies have not turned people over to testify. And, look, this level of obstruction predates the impeachment proceeding, even in the House. From the beginning of the administration, the president's tried to thwart Congress.

And so we are here in part because this is not 1999. And even Bill Clinton provided documents and testimony and so on.

This is a very different impeachment proceeding.

TAPPER: Twenty-one years ago, Senator Tom Harkin, who's no longer in the Senate, Democrat, said that his first objection in the impeachment proceedings -- trial of President Clinton, was, we're not jurors. Stop calling us jurors, because we're more than that. We're judge -- we're more like judges.

And Rehnquist agreed. One of the points that he was trying to make was that this is more than one man. This is about what the country, what precedents are being set.

What presidents do you think the current Senate is going to set?

CORDERO: Well, they are -- they do take an independent oath that's different than their regular oath when they are sitting in this capacity.

And so they really do need to think about the facts that are at issue, whether or not they are going to set a historic precedent that it is either OK or it's not OK for a president to use his official position to obtain political information and abuse his foreign policy authority.

And if the members of the Senate can really think about that factual scenario and the historical precedent that it sets, I think it will set the tone for how they vote on whether there should be witnesses and how they conduct themselves throughout the trial.

TAPPER: David, the president is supposed to be in Davos next week when the impeachment trial gets under way. I feel like he might not go, just based on, like, his reluctance to leave, especially when his reputation is going to be torn asunder.

What do you think?

URBAN: Right.

So, I mean, the president has declined to go in last minute in previous trip. So we will have to see.

I think, listen, the one thing that Bill Clinton did, which I think this administration will do, is counterprogramming. Right? You see it today in the president signing this trade deal, historic trade deal, first step with the Chinese, which is a big deal. Dow closing above 29000 points for the first time.

Lots of news. It's not going to be impeachment-related every day. I think you will see that. I think you will see it every day during the impeachment.

TAPPER: And we should just note that there's an economist I was talking to earlier said it's a good deal, maybe not -- maybe -- he said maybe wasn't worth the pain, but ultimately a better deal than where we were.

(CROSSTALK)

URBAN: Listen, it really cracks down on the theft of intellectual property, on technology transfer, lots of things, interestingly, in this town that are agreed to across the aisle, across both houses of Congress too.

So, it's pretty impressive.

TAPPER: All right, everyone, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

You can follow me on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet show @THELEADCNN.

Our coverage on CNN continues right now.

Thank you so much for joining us. We will see you tomorrow.

[17:00:00]