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Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) is Interviewed about Parnas and Impeachment; Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) is Interviewed about Parnas' Claims; Warren and Sanders Debate Clash. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 16, 2020 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Just as the Senate impeachment trial is set to begin, Anderson Cooper has this stunning new interview with indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.

For the first time in public, Parnas directly implicates President Trump and his top deputies in the scheme to get Ukraine to announce an investigation into the Bidens before Ukraine would get any military aid.


LEV PARNAS, INDICTED RUDY GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: It was strictly for him. It was all about 2020 to make sure he had another four years. And that is --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And you -- but that's how you personally viewed it, that this is about 2020, to help him get the next four years.

PARNAS: That was the way everybody viewed it. I mean there was -- that was the most important thing is for him to stay on for another four years and keep the fight going. I mean there was no other reason for doing it.


CAMEROTA: OK, joining us now is Democratic Senator Doug Jones, who will be sworn in as an impeachment juror later today.

Good morning, Senator. It's a busy day for you.

SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): Yes, it is, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: And in the news business.

JONES: Yes, it is.

CAMEROTA: Have you had a chance to listen to that entire ten minutes of Anderson Cooper's interview with Lev Parnas? JONES: Not the entire ten minutes. I tried to pick up on that

interview and the one that was done last night on MSNBC as well. There's a lot to unpack there. Alisyn, that we've got to be looking at going forward.

CAMEROTA: Is this information relevant to the Senate impeachment trial?

JONES: Well, of course it's relevant. And I think it puts Ambassador Yovanovitch's testimony in an interesting context. There for a while it was questionable whether that had any real relevance. Now we see that at least there is testimony -- or there's witnesses out there who puts it in a context of the fact that her removal was part of a scheme to get information about the Ukrainian business Burisma and the Bidens. And that is just another piece of evidence that goes to the overall chronology in this that I think the Senate has to take a really hard look at.

CAMEROTA: How about those text messages that we saw yesterday that that Republican congressional candidate from Connecticut was apparently watching her every move and sending these text messages back to Lev Parnas and suggesting, it seems, in code, that he share immediately her whereabouts with Rudy Giuliani.

I mean what -- is the Senate interested in hearing about that?

JONES: You know, I think that that is really for some criminal investigators, both in Ukraine and the Justice Department. If any of that happened, it should be investigated thoroughly.

I'm not sure that that is something that we need to get into right now. I think that if we focus on her removal as the ambassador, and the specific issues that we've got in hand, let the Justice Department, let this Department of State, let the Ukrainian officials that -- because this is implicating Ukrainian law as well -- let them look into that and let's focus on the real things that we've got in front of us.

CAMEROTA: Yes, by the way, they just announced that they -- Ukraine, not our own Department of Justice, Ukraine just announced that they are launching an investigation into whether or not she was threatened or surveilled.

But let's move on to what Lev Parnas says.

He is saying this morning for the first time in the most fulsome way that everything he did was at the instruction of Rudy Giuliani. He believes that President Trump was directly connected and was talking to Rudy Giuliani about this and, according to Lev Parnas, this was all about the 2020 re-election. Corruption was never mentioned.

And so that brings us, Senator, look, you've been on the record as saying you want to hear from witnesses, you think it's relevant. Of course this brings us to your Republican colleagues. Do you think that this will compel them, more of them, to want to hear from witnesses? JONES: Well, I certainly hope so. I mean we have been saying all

along, I have said from the very beginning of this that we need to hear from the witnesses that were in the room that were part of this -- all of this action. We need to hear from the people with firsthand information. And the fact that this is coming out now needs to be tested.

You know, people have to look at Lev Parnas with a degree of skepticism. I get that. But the way to test his credibility is with live testimony subject to cross-examination.

One of the things that's often forgot in this is the administration criticized the House for not being a part of this -- their investigation in the House, not having the president's lawyers there. Well, in the Senate trial, the president will have his counsel there, will have his lawyers there. And all of these potential witnesses will be subject to cross-examination.


And that's where the real truth gets in is through the cross- examination. Every lawyer will tell you it is the cross-examination of live testimony in which you can really drill down on the truth. And that's an important part of this for the president to also be able to do this, not just in the media and the court of public opinion, but in a trial and get his counselor right there in the middle of it.

CAMEROTA: And do you have any sense this morning, given this Lev Parnas interview -- and I'm talking about behind the scenes, in the hallways, do you have any sense from your Republican colleagues that something has changed and they're more open to that now?

JONES: I don't know. you know, this all started breaking late yesterday. We weren't really in the halls too much yesterday afternoon. We're going to have a really serious proceeding today. We're going to have the articles of impeachment of a president of the United States read on the floor of the Senate. The chief justice of the United States is going to be escorted in, sworn to be the presiding officer, and then all 100 senators will raise their hand and swear to do impartial justice.

This is a very, very serious and somber proceeding. And so I think once we get into that trial mode, once we take those oaths, I think people are going to really look -- focus this on their duty as not only senators but their duty that -- the oath that they take to do fair and impartial justice.

And so I think you'll hear more in the coming days.

CAMEROTA: One of your colleagues, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, told our Manu Raju, well, why didn't this come out sooner? Isn't that a little bit strange?

Do you understand? Do you blame the House for not having been able to get access to this when a judge just granted Lev Parnas the ability to hand it over to Congress? JONES: Right.

Well, certainly, I -- I think that it's a legitimate question about that. But, you know, I've been on both sides of a courtroom when it comes to big cases like this and we have to put this in a huge context. It's not just the fact that the judge held (ph) this. Parnas was first arrested like October 9th or 10th, during the middle of this investigation. Number one, remember his first lawyer was John Dowd, who was also a president's former lawyer. Dowd was representing both of these defendants. So there has to be some time in a criminal proceeding for a lawyer to make sure that -- where their client stands.

Ultimately Parnas got a different lawyer. That lawyer has to get up to speed. Once these documents, once these text message came, they've got to make a decision. That lawyer is looking with his client to determine what the story is, talking to him, challenging him. And whether or not he needs to come forward to help his case.

So I'm not at all shocked that this has taken 90 days or so in a criminal -- a huge criminal case in the Southern District of New York for a witness to be able to publicly turn over documents and give their side of the story at least at this point. I think it's -- I think that that is par for the course. I'm glad it has happened because it just proves that we have so much more to this case that is out there, that hasn't been done in part because the administration has blocked witnesses and blocked the receipt of documents.

CAMEROTA: Senator Doug Jones, we really appreciate you taking time this morning to come on NEW DAY and to give your perspective on all of this. We'll talk again soon.

JONES: All right, Alisyn, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, that last discussion point with Alisyn and Senator Jones there, a Republican senator suggesting if this is so bad, if this evidence was so important, why didn't the House get it? It's an odd argument, but we're going to put that question to a member of the House leadership team, next.



BERMAN: In just a few hours, the House impeachment managers will read the articles of impeachment against President Trump on the floor of the Senate. The timing, remarkable. It comes after this explosive interview with indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. He tells Anderson Cooper that President Trump knew all about his efforts to personally pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEV PARNAS, INDICTED RUDY GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: If they didn't make the announcement, basically there would be no relationship. Not just -- it was no specific military aid, there was no aid that was going to be assisted, there was going to be no inauguration, Pence wouldn't be at the inauguration, and there would be no visit to the White House. There would be basically -- they would have no communication.


BERMAN: To be clear there, Lev Parnas is saying that he personally told the Ukrainians that unless they investigated the Bidens there would be no aid, there would be no nothing.

Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman Katherine Clark. She's the vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus.

Congresswoman, thank you very much for being with us.

All morning long we've been talking about the implications of this explosive new interview that Lev Parnas says that he personally asked the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens or else they wouldn't get aid and the president knew all about it.

In response to that, Republican Senator Susan Collins says, well, look, I wonder why the House did not put that into the record and it's only now being revealed. Told that Parnas just turned over the documents to the committee, she added, well, doesn't that suggest the House did an incomplete job then?

What's your response to that? We know that a judge only ruled that Parnas could release those documents and go public with this information now. But how would you respond to Senator Collins?

REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D-MA): It is hard to believe that Senator Collins is going to meet this information with a mere shrug of her shoulders, it should have gotten here earlier. We have a situation where the White House, in coordination with the majority leader, is trying to block the truth from the American people, as they have done throughout this impeachment proceedings.

There have been no documents. There have been no witnesses. And the president continues to double down that he thinks this should be dismissed and that he would consider an executive order to make sure nobody who has direct knowledge can come and testify.

This is supposed to be a trial. Americans understand that trials fundamentally put witnesses and documents in front of the jurors in order to get to the truth.


And Susan Collins' comments today give me a great deal of concern about where this is heading in the Senate.

BERMAN: It's out of your hands now. It's in the hands of the Senate to a certain extent. What's not out of your hands in the House is what you do with Lev Parnas. So what's to keep the House of Representatives from calling Lev Parnas as a witness, deposing him, asking him for more information, getting him to testify under oath?

CLARK: So, let's be clear, what is never out of the hands in this process, it's never out of the hands of the American people. And it is they that we are working for and demanding the truth because we have an oath to our office to them and to uphold the Constitution.

So we're going to let this process go forward. And it is exactly how the framers envision how we would deal with a rogue president, how we would deal with a president like President Trump who has put his own political gain ahead of the security of our country and ahead of making sure we have free elections that represent the will of the people.

We are not taking anything off the table. We have managed to do a very substantive agenda while fulfilling our oversight obligations. And nothing about that is going to change.

But, for now, this is the Senate's turn as they take an oath of impartiality to do the right thing, to live up to our Constitution and to remember who they work for. And that's the American people ad not a particular president.

BERMAN: Very quickly, Lev Parnas is under federal indictment. What concerns do you have about whether what he's saying is trustworthy or believable?

CLARK: Like any witness, especially a witness who may be cooperating, who's facing criminal charges, you have to verify their credibility. But, again, that is what we do in trials. That is why we have witnesses and documents. Documents can be great for establishing the truth when witnesses can change their stories. But that's not what we're hearing from the Senate. The Senate is saying, let's cover this up. Let's move on and turn the page. And this is a real moment for who we are going to be as a country. And it is in the hands of the senators who need to make sure that they are standing up for our democracy.

BERMAN: And we will all be watching it play out before our eyes today.

Congresswoman Katherine Clark, thank you very much for being with us.

CLARK: Thank you, John.

CAMEROTA: How about some "Good Stuff," John?

A Sacramento waitress stunned by an $1,800 tip. Kathleen Moreno, who works two jobs to pay for school, says she waited on a group last week and was surprised when they rewarded her kind service with an unexpected bonus.


KATHLEEN MORENO, WILDWOOD KITCHEN AND BAR SERVER: When she wrote the tip, I thought she just wrote the total is 200. So I was like, that's really cool. That's nice of her. Super normal tip. And then I looked closer and there was an extra zero and I couldn't stop shaking for about like 30 minutes to an hour.


CAMEROTA: Along with the tip they wrote the message, Happy New Year. Kathleen says she plans to use the money to fix her car, and the rest she will donate to fire relief in Australia.

BERMAN: Well, how about that, she's going to pay it forward.

CAMEROTA: Paying it forward.


BERMAN: So, CNN now has the audio revealing what really happened and what was really said between Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders after the Iowa debate.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you called me a liar on national TV.


BERMAN: More on where that came from, next.



BERMAN: CNN now has the audio from what really was the most talked about moment after the Democratic debate. The tense exchange between Senator Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders after they clashed about whether Sanders told Warren in a private meeting in 2018 that he did not think a woman could win against President Trump in 2020. Here it is.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you called me a liar on national TV.


WARREN: I think you called me a liar on national TV.

SANDERS: No, let's not do it right now. You want to have that discussion, we'll have that discussion.

WARREN: Any time.

SANDERS: You called me a liar. You told me -- all right, let's not do it now.

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want to get in the middle of it. I just want to say, hi, Bernie.

SANDERS: Yes, good.

STEYER: It's great (ph) to see you.



BERMAN: CNN's MJ Lee joins us. She broke the story about what happened in that conversation initially between Sanders and Warren.

It is remarkable to hear them have this discussion about honesty now in front of the American people.

MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This was a short but remarkable exchange between the two senators just moments after the debate ended. And notable that during the debate, the two senators, when they were asked about this exchange in the private 2018 meeting, they didn't want to linger on the topic itself.

Senator Bernie Sanders repeatedly denied that this was something he had said and very vehemently denied it, I should note. And Senator Warren again insisted that he disagreed when she said in this meeting that she believed a woman could win. So now we are seeing these very real and raw emotions between the two senators who have been friends and colleagues for a long time.

And I should note that this also comes as the two senators are now in Washington, D.C., to participate in the Senate impeachment trial.


So very possible that the two of them will be in close quarters and running into each other on Capitol Hill.

And I should also just note that this is, obviously, brought the issue of gender and gender inequality in politics to the forefront of the conversation and really raising the question of whether a woman can indeed be president in the year 2020.

CAMEROTA: And is there some suggestion that behind the scenes these two are going to work to bury the hatchet or are we just off to the races now?

LEE: As of this morning, we have not heard anything from the campaigns about the audio that has come out. No comment yesterday when the audio came out. So there was no sort of effort to say sort of make amends from the campaigns themselves. And we don't know if the two have spoken. As of yesterday, they had not.

BERMAN: All right, MJ Lee, thanks very much for all of this.

We are waiting to hear this morning how the Senate will react to this new, deeply revealing interview with indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. It talks about the Ukraine scandal going back months. What will the Senate say?

Our breaking news coverage continues right after this.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: A stunning twist ahead of the president's impeachment trial. It is a big day.

Good morning, everyone. I'm -