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New Video Shows Two Iranian Missiles Hitting Passenger Plane; Democratic Candidates Clash In Final Debate Before Iowa; Could Chief Justice Roberts Compel Witnesses To Testify? Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 15, 2020 - 05:30   ET



ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY, FORMER FEDERAL & STATE PROSECUTOR: Remember when Ambassador Yovanovitch testified and it seemed a little cloak and dagger. She was getting messages you're in danger. I remember thinking a little bit like OK, let's not imaginations run away. And now, we see it was real.

They're watching her physically. It stands to reason somebody is watching her from across the street or with binoculars or whatever. And so, we need to figure this out. This is the U.S. ambassador being surveilled on foreign soil for what reason?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Elie, you used to prosecute mob people --


BERMAN: -- on the line. They're willing to help if we/you would like a price. Does that bring up any memories?

HONIG: That's more -- well, that's even more explicit than the kind of things I would see. I mean, look, what does that mean? What's the price?

I mean, Lev Parnas needs to be asked all of these questions. He wants to cooperate, answer these questions.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you all very much. We'll continue to cover this developing story.

We also have new video that shows two Iranian missiles hitting that passenger plane near Tehran. What "The New York Times" has uncovered, next.



CAMEROTA: There's a developing story overnight. "The New York Times" says new video they have obtained shows two Iranian missiles hitting a passenger plane near Tehran minutes after take-off, killing all 176 people on board. After days of denial, Iran has admitted to mistakenly shooting down this plane.

CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins us with more. So, this is a big development, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is, Alisyn, and it tells us some very sad facts. It tells us about the last minutes of the people onboard the aircraft that not just one missile but two missiles hit the plane 20 seconds apart. One can only begin to imagine how awful that must have been for the passengers and crew onboard the plane.

But it tells us something else as well. It tells us that the Iranians are being less than honest, less than fully truthful, less than fully forthcoming on the issue about the plane. Only once did they mention missiles hitting the aircraft. Every other time they have talked about a singular missile.

We've been told by the military commander in charge that they had 10 seconds to make a decision on whether to shoot down. Was this a passenger jet or an incoming U.S. missile? Now it appears that they had another 20 seconds to make a separate decision on what to do.

So none of this is adding up and measuring up to what the Iranian authorities are saying. It's certainly likely to cause consternation and concern and anger in Iran and potentially bring more people out on the streets again protesting against the regime.

And this comes against the backdrop of the Iranian media saying that the man who took or the person who took the first video we saw of the downing of the aircraft has been arrested.

And we know today, as well, Ukrainian authorities are now asking the Iranians to get the black boxes. Not clear that the Iranians are ready to hand those over yet.

That lack of transparency seems to be quite clear now, John.

BERMAN: Indeed, and there are still questions about Iran's story even now. Nic Robertson, thanks so much for being with us.

So which candidates resonated the most with Iowa caucusgoers? We're going to ask a group of Iowa voters who watched the debate. Many of them have finally made up their minds. Stick around.



BERMAN: So, the final debate before the Iowa caucuses happened overnight before our very eyes -- sleepy eyes.

CNN's Gary Tuchman has been watching all the debates with the same 11 Iowa caucusgoers throughout the campaign to see how their opinions have been changing.

CAMEROTA: I like that exercise.

BERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: I'm very excited to hear what they say.

BERMAN: Wait until you hear what they say about last night.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We have watched each of the debates with this same group of Iowa Democrats but this is the first one we've watched together in person, all of them undecided voters when we first met.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Who do you think did the best tonight? You pick one or two people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Warren and Sanders.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Warren and Klobuchar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Klobuchar and Warren.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Klobuchar and Biden.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Warren and Klobuchar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Warren and Klobuchar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Warren and Klobuchar.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sanders and Warren.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Elizabeth Warren picked by 10 of the 11.

TUCHMAN (on camera): What do you think the key moment was of this last debate before you go to vote in the caucuses?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think when Elizabeth said it's our moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said I have hope in my heart and I thought that was really powerful. And she's the candidate I think who gives me the most hope for the future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The key moment for me was watching all of the candidates. They didn't attack one another.

TUCHMAN (on camera): What have you learned from these debates about the Democratic candidates? Has it inspired you, has it worried you, has it done both? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It mostly inspires me because we have a group of incredibly intelligent people who are articulate, who care deeply about this country, and any of whom would be the polar opposite of the current inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honestly, I'm a little bit less inspired just because we're not seeing the true representation of the Democratic Party of America with --

TUCHMAN (on camera): As far as diversity.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): So after all the campaigning and all these debates, who will they caucus for?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sticking with Klobuchar.





TUCHMAN (on camera): Mira (ph)?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to caucus for Warren.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Wife and husband Leslie and Scott Carpenter had recently decided on Cory Booker. Now that he's out, Leslie says she will probably caucus for Warren. Scott says he still doesn't know.

TUCHMAN (on camera): But you're undecided less than three weeks before the caucuses?


TUCHMAN (on camera): Even after seven debates?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): One Democrat who hasn't made up his mind. Among the rest, the edge goes to Elizabeth Warren.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Des Moines, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CAMEROTA: OK, that did not disappoint.


CAMEROTA: Those are always so --

BERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- revealing.

Joining us now, we have CNN senior political analyst John Avlon and CNN political commentator Karen Finney. She's the former senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.


Karen, I want to start with you because you told us yesterday what you were excited about. So, what did you hear last night? What jumped out at you?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SENIOR SPOKESPERSON, HILLARY FOR AMERICA: You know, actually, overall, I thought it was a great night for the Democratic Party in that each one of those candidates I thought had an excellent night.

I agree with our panel there. I thought Warren and actually, Biden had probably the strongest performances, particularly when it came to the subject of foreign policy. I think Biden had the most in-depth and nuanced approach and understanding of the situation.

And I thought it was very interesting -- and we talked yesterday about what was happening between Bernie Sanders and Sen. Warren and it was interesting how that just kind of got diffused on the stage and that Bernie invoked Hillary Clinton, reminding people that a woman has actually already beaten Donald Trump in the popular vote.


JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I'm sorry. I mean, yes, but it's not like he particularly helped her effort --

FINNEY: No, true.

AVLON: -- overall.

Look, I think last night was a do no harm debate and generally, I think that's actually not the way to win in politics.

But, Elizabeth Warren went in as the happy warrior -- high energy. I think she had objectively, the strongest night probably at exactly the right time.

Amy Klobuchar had another strong debate. She's had strong debates throughout. It hasn't necessarily helped her tick off to that top tier. And, Biden did what he has to do. He had a couple of good moments, a couple of good answers. Not a dominant performance or crisp performance throughout, but didn't implode. And frankly, that's been the Biden standard. He's been Teflon throughout this entire cycle.

BERMAN: You know, watching Gary Tuchman's focus group, he's been with those same voters all seven debates. I actually don't remember a single voter saying anything about Joe Biden until last night, which is why it was interesting to hear two of the panelists say they were going to vote for him. And that might be what Joe Biden is hoping for -- people just sit around and wait and at the end of the day, they come back around to Joe Biden.

AVLON: The number-one criteria for Democrats is someone who can beat Donald Trump. Joe Biden has consistently performed best at the head against Donald Trump, particularly in swing voters and swing states in the Upper Midwest.

FINNEY: But I think it's also very important to remember -- I mean, and he mentioned it last night. Joe Biden is the only one that has taken on the kind of full-frontal assault --


FINNEY: -- from President Trump, which --


FINNEY: -- my God, we're learning more about. Now we've got Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas involved in all of this.

So I have to give him credit because I've got to tell you guys, having been through this before with Donald Trump, the barrage -- the daily attacks and barrage is like nothing you've ever seen before.

And the fact that Biden has been able to sustain attacks and still stay on top, and have a good debate performance, and be very strong I thought, again, when it comes to foreign policy in Iran -- we knew going in people are very nervous about that. So I thought that was actually quite important.

BERMAN: Can I settle one --


BERMAN: -- an awkward debate between us?


BERMAN: Bernie Sanders --

AVLON: We're here to mediate.

CAMEROTA: I'm sorry to --

FINNEY: No, that's all right. Here we are. BERMAN: Well, the Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren thing --


BERMAN: Doesn't one of the definitionally have to be lying? I mean, either this conversation happened or it didn't. And, Bernie Sanders says it did.

CAMEROTA: No. I think that they can -- you can have different interpretations of a conversation.

BERMAN: But that's not what Bernie Sanders is saying now. He's saying --

AVLON: I mean, who knows what really --

BERMAN: -- it didn't -- no, but he's saying it didn't happen now.

CAMEROTA: He's saying he didn't --


CAMEROTA: -- say that a woman couldn't win.


CAMEROTA: But he maybe said it will be hard this year for a woman to win. That's a different interpretation.

AVLON: Yes. Look, this is kind of a rosherman (ph) thing. This is ultimately a he said-she said. Clearly, he believes he did not come out and say in an intimidating way a woman can't win this time and she heard something different.

I want to make one point, though, about what Karen just said about Biden in some ways benefitting from the incoming -- from Donald Trump. The way he handled it last night was fascinating. He has been the focus of Trump's ire.

You know, we see the Russians hacking Burisma, which is I think an indication -- yet another indication of their concern.

But look at the language he used last night. I've been the object of Donald Trump's affection. That worked with the audience.


AVLON: Also, he said he went after my surviving son.



AVLON: That is very powerful.

BERMAN: Karen, am I right or is Alisyn right? FINNEY: Oh, come on. Well, I've got to go with Alisyn. I mean, since we're talking about -- you know, I've got to back the woman here?

BERMAN: We're out of time, actually.

FINNEY: -- right?

CAMEROTA: Well played, Karen.

FINNEY: Solidarity.

CAMEROTA: Well played.

AVLON: Where does the time go?

FINNEY: But you know what I thought was fascinating? I really appreciated how our moderators -- granted, I'm a little bit biased -- how they handled it. We didn't -- they didn't make it into a back-and- forth of the he said-she said. They let Bernie say his peace, they let Warren say her peace, and then we had a bit about --


FINNEY: -- women and the strength of women and women candidates.

And look, it's for the voters to decide either who they think -- who they believe and/or how they feel about it.


BERMAN: Karen Finney, John Avlon --

CAMEROTA: I agree with Karen. I totally agree with Karen.

AVLON: I'm glad we had this time.

CAMEROTA: Thank you both very much. Obviously, we will talk more about this.

But if there aren't enough votes, OK, for the Senate to allow witnesses -- moving on to impeachment now -- Chief Justice John Roberts could be the deciding factor in the impeachment trial. So what would he do?


We have an expert on that, next.


CAMEROTA: Four Republican senators say they are open to hearing from witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, but what happens if only three vote to hear from those witnesses? Well, then the chief justice of the Supreme Court would have to decide.

Joining us now is Harry Litman. He's a former deputy assistant attorney general and he has just written an op-ed about Chief Justice Roberts' role. Harry, great to see you.


So, make your case.


CAMEROTA: Good morning.

Make your case for how Chief Justice Roberts is not just a ceremonial figure in all of this, he could be the deciding factor.

LITMAN: Yes, and it's the last thing he would want to be, but he is the presiding officer. He's the exact same position a vice president, who would have to break a tie, say, in a confirmation battle. Presiding officers preside. And, in fact, in impeachment trials in the past, Salmon Chase, for example, broke ties of just this sort.

And that's the position exactly for Roberts that he will have really no choice if it gets to 50-50. And that's a very unusual scenario but it seems very plausible given the numbers that are in play. You hear three names fairly likely and getting to four is tricky.

Now, of course, remember, they get to four, they rule -- the rule of 51. If they get to two, they rule. If they're on the knife's edge of 50, that's what a presiding officer has to do.

CAMEROTA: So let's talk about those three names that you're alluding to -- Lisa Murkowski --

LITMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- Susan Collins, and Mitt Romney.

LITMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: Those three have said that they would like -- they're open to hearing from witnesses. And, in fact, Susan Collins has said that she's working with a small group of senators on how they could call witnesses. We don't know what that means. We don't know if that's exactly those three that she is talking about.

But you're saying that alone, those three do not have -- would not have the power, but that's where John Roberts would have to step in. And from what we know about John Roberts, which way would he rule?

LITMAN: Oh, that is, of course, the big question.

But a lot of people think, by the way, Alisyn -- you know, this is all sort of the Wild West -- there's not much precedent here -- that if it's 50-50, it's a tie and the motion fails. And that's the point I'm saying is wrong. It would fall to Roberts.

He will want more than anything to seem nonpartisan, to seem just, et cetera. If a gun is to his head, as I'm suggesting, to me, I think -- and I think this also of the overall sort of movement behind the scenes now of the Senate, it's easier to say let witnesses with relevant evidence testify than to rebuff them. And that also accords with how the law would generally handle these things, say, in the federal courts, which are his natural home.

So if I were -- if I were betting, I'd actually try to go to another casino that day. But if I had to put down the bet, I would say Roberts lets the witnesses testify.

CAMEROTA: I mean, this is not --

LITMAN: First, by the way, after trying to wrangle the Senate to make a decision on its own.

CAMEROTA: OK. I mean, as you point out, this is an unprecedented -- not unprecedented -- this is an unusual scenario but possibly the most likely one. So we --

LITMAN: That's right. We --

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead -- last thought.

LITMAN: Well, it's unprecedented at president impeachment level but -- well, you're right, it's not because of Salmon Chase. But it happens, of course, all the time with vice presidents. It's just the same role that under Senate rules, under the Constitution. He is the presiding officer.

CAMEROTA: OK. Well, today, we are moving closer to whatever is going to happen as we find out exactly what articles of impeachment are sent over, and what time, and house managers, et cetera, et cetera.

Harry Litman, thank you very much for explaining --

LITMAN: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: -- the role of John Roberts. Great to see you -- John.

BERMAN: That was really interesting.

OK, a huge day in the impeachment trial. Really, the first day of the next phase. Plus, the fallout from last night's debate in Iowa. NEW DAY continues right now.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's incomprehensible that I would think that a woman could not beat President Trump.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can a woman beat Donald Trump? The only people who have won every election that they've been in are the women.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got to move past a Washington mentality that suggests that the boldness of a plan only consists of how many Americans it can alienate.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": House Democrats unveiling new documents about President Trump's pressure campaign in Ukraine.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The documents show Giuliani was pushing for a meeting with the president of Ukraine.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The House is likely to finally send the articles, which would set us up to begin the actual trial next Tuesday.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, January 15th. It's 6:00 here in New York.

The final debate before the first votes in the Iowa caucuses.