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INSIDE POLITICS

Impeachment Trial Pulls Some 2020 Candidates off the Trail; Sanders, Warren Try to Move On From Post-Debate Confrontation; Andrew Yang's Wife Evelyn Shares Her Story of Sexual Assault. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 17, 2020 - 12:30   ET

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


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[12:30:58]

MICHAEL STENGER, SENATE SERGEANT AT ARMS: All persons are commanded to keep silent on pain of imprisonment while the House of Representatives are exhibiting to the Senate of the United States articles of impeachment against Donald John Trump, president of the United States.

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JOHN KING, CNN HOST: That oath applies to all 100 senators but perhaps says added meaning to four who just happened to be Democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bennet. The Iowa caucuses are in 17 days, the New Hampshire primary in 25. But the impeachment trial begins in earnest Tuesday. It will take at least two weeks.

Some senators think it could go three or four. If so, keeping those senators off the trail at a very pivotal time.

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SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not optimal but there's nothing to do about it. I'm going to go up to New Hampshire this weekend. I think I've got a constitutional responsibility to fulfill, and I feel privileged to have the chance to do it.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a mom. I can do two things at once. It is my constitutional duty, and when I can go campaign in those early states including Nevada and South Carolina, I will. But when I have to be there, I will. I have a constitutional duty to be there. We can Skype in, we can phone in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It sound like they can go on TV and say this is terrible, this is horrible, I hate it. But it's -- you know, just to be human about it, they're ambitious, they're running for president especially in Iowa and New Hampshire, the voters -- you know this well from your experience, the voters like to see you. TV ads can help, you can phone it in, you can Skype it in, but they want to see you and touch you.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: They'd rather be in Iowa. And also, Iowa voters tend to break late. We have a very close race with the top four. And you have Amy Klobuchar who is really trying to break in Iowa and so this is sort of a key time. They can't be there.

I was just talking to someone from Klobuchar's camp who is saying they're doing all the things they can. She is there every weekend doing, you know, multiple events a day. They have surrogates. Her husband, her daughter will be out there. She's going to Skype in, but certainly that's not the same thing as being in diners and pizza ranches across the state.

KING: Yes, take a quick look as you jump in just as this (INAUDIBLE) weekend if you're a Democratic senator running for president because you know you're out -- you're free now. You have to be back in the Senate by Tuesday morning. Monday is the Martin Luther King holiday. Just look at what's happening here today, Iowa, Warren, Minnesota, Klobuchar. Saturday, Iowa, Warren, Klobuchar, New Hampshire, Sanders, Bennet. Sunday, Iowa, Warren, Klobuchar, New Hampshire, Sanders, Bennet. Monday, Iowa, Warren, Bennet, Klobuchar, Sanders.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, this morning Michael Bennet was on CNN and he was talking to me while he was literally running to the elevator to get on a plane to get to New Hampshire because he knows the time is limited. The good news for these senators is that it turns out we have TV cameras in the capitol. And I was really struck yesterday -- I think it was yesterday, when Bernie Sanders who -- I don't even think I'd ever seen him at a stakeout camera ever on Capitol Hill, made a beeline for that camera and started talking to reporters.

I think we're going to see a lot of that.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And there are breaks during the trial, so there will be opportunities for them to come out, and it won't meet during the morning, so they'll have the mornings. But, you know, it is interesting, normally to be the senators in the Senate as an opportunity for grandstanding, and for -- they could actually in a normal Senate session, make actual news. They will have to sit there quietly.

KING: And again, back to calendar, as you jump in, I just want to show you the calendar because this collision is just -- I've covered campaigns that are crazy, I've covered impeachment before. Never do you have this collision like this.

Martin Luther King Day -- Martin Luther Jr. Day is on Monday. First day of impeachment trial, Tuesday. the Iowa caucus moving around the corner on February 3rd. The state of the union the next day of February 4th. There supposed to be a Democratic debate on February 7th. And then New Hampshire primary on February 11th.

We expect the trial to be over before the New Hampshire primary but we can't be certain. LUCEY: No, we don't know. And I think the other thing to think about here is this really tests the organizations that these candidates have in both these early states. Iowa, especially with the caucus, it is so organization-driven in terms of having people coming out, building that energy and building those operations. And so it really will -- that will really put a lot of pressure on that on the last couple of weeks.

KING: And we know the president loves to stoke a good conspiracy theory, he just does. And so he has one today that the Democrats are doing this on purpose to keep Bernie Sanders off the campaign trail.

[12:35:07]

"They're rigging the election again, against Bernie Sanders just last time, only even more obviously. They're bringing him out of so important Iowa in order that, as a senator, he sits through the impeachment hoax trial. Crazy Nancy thereby gives the strong edge to sleepy Joe Biden, and Bernie is shut out again."

He likes mixing it up in the other guy's garden.

BASH: He's doing that but he's also -- that's also a part of another storyline which is the Trump campaign trying to boost Bernie Sanders. Yes.

KING: Right. Yes.

LUCEY: They would like to run against Bernie.

BASH: Yes.

KING: Up next, President Trump having some fun, and of course, can't forget impeachment at a White House celebration with the LSU Tigers.

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[12:40:09]

KING: Topping our political radar today, after initially reporting no U.S. casualties in Iran's attack on Iraq's Al Asad airbase last week, the United States military now says eleven U.S. service members were treated for concussion symptoms after that blast. A military official noted that some symptoms can take days to appear. The Pentagon says these troops were transported to the U.S. military facilities in Germany and Kuwait for screening. The hope is they will be able to return to duty after being assessed.

In a belated move, the Justice Department prosecutors are investigating immediately tie to the FBI's Hillary Clinton e-mail probe. That, according to a source familiar with the situation. It's not clear who the target of this probe is but speculation points to the former FBI Director James Comey due to his big role in that matter. The timing of the investigation prompting some to question possible political motivations since Comey, of course, has been one of President Trump's most vocal critics. And a senior State Department official telling CNN today that diplomatic security officials are now investigating if the former ambassador in Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance. The surveillance claims were made this week by Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani. The secretary of state this morning promising to investigate but saying he knew nothing about any surveillance operation.

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HUGH HEWITT, HOST, "THE HUGH HEWITT SHOW": All right. Until this story broke, were you aware that Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was being surveilled while serving as ambassador?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, never heard this at all, Hugh.

HEWITT: OK.

POMPEO: Until this story broke, I had, to the best of my recollection, had never heard of this at all.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KING: And the Tigers taking over the White House today. President Trump congratulating the LSU Tigers football team four days after their big national championship win in New Orleans. CoJo and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow led the team to a perfect 15 in all-season beating the defending champs, Clemson, who, you might remember, filled up on fast food when they made the trip to the White House last year.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With Joe quarterbacking and a team of unrivaled talent right alongside and beside him, LSU had to beat the reigning champions, a team that was here last year and (INAUDIBLE) and they were very large. You know, we served them a lot of food. They ate so much food, we didn't know what the hell to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Up next, an awkward silence on the 2020 campaign trail as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren try to move on.

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[12:47:10]

KING: Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are in an awkward detente, or at least an awkward silence. Warren approached Sanders you might remember after the CNN debate Tuesday night and said he had just called her a liar on national television. That, because Sanders denied telling Warren at a December 2018 dinner that he did not believe a woman could defeat President Trump in 2020. Sanders at the time said he didn't want to talk about it up on that stage. And while both were at the capital yesterday for the impeachment trial, apparently no effort to talk it out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, have you spoken to Senator Warren since the debate, have you resolved anything?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, we haven't spoken.

KING: I assume at some point they have to speak. Or am I wrong? Do they just both just hope this goes away?

BASH: You might be wrong.

LUCEY: Do they have to speak? I mean, I don't -- it doesn't seem like they're having any kind of (INAUDIBLE) at any time soon. I mean, I think this is a complicated clash. It's awkward. You have two people saying entirely different things about a private meeting several years ago and it raises a lot of sort of thorny questions about gender and the Democratic Party that a lot of people maybe don't really want to come up right now.

I think also, you know, looking into these early contests, it raises the real questions about the fact that the two of them pull from a similar pool of voters, and does this upset any of those people. When you look at Iowa, people's first and second choices matter. Often you see that they're Warren first, Bernie second or vice versa. Does this change any of that?

KING: This is the national poll but to that point -- it's the Quinnipiac national poll, but to that point, the numbers I've seen, Iowa numbers are quite similar. If your first choice is Warren, 57 percent of those Warren voters say their second choice would be Bernie Sanders. They thought they're both progressives. If your first choice is Sanders, more than half, 52 percent say their second choice is Warren.

So if these two get into it whether the issue is Medicare for All or their recollection of this meeting in which Senator Warren, sources close to her and then she confirmed it after our MJ Lee report it that she put out a statement saying essentially that she made a case to Bernie Sanders why I think I'd be a stronger president she said because part of it that she could get broader support among the women in the electorate. And according to her team's take and her statement, Sanders respondent by saying, no, I disagree, a woman can't beat Trump.

Are we just going to leave this? This is it?

BASH: So I mean, you know, to your point about the differences and the divisions among Democrats but even more granularly -- that wasn't an easy word to say -- the progressives, you know, it's kind of -- Elizabeth Warren is relying on the fact that what is known colloquially as the Bernie bros will never leave him, but she can maybe get some women who will perk up their ears to the argument that she made there. I was talking, though, to a top Democratic official who was talking to, you know, senior progressives in the party who were saying what you are alluding to which is that they're worried it's mutually assured destruction and that progressives in general are very concerned about this feud.

[12:50:04]

KING: To that point, there's a -- some smart political reporting, there's a lot of good reporting about this. This from Politico about -- it says, Sanders campaign urging his people to just let it go, just stop. Don't talk about it, don't push it, take the high road.

"Meanwhile, Biden's allies are happy to keep talking about it. Ex- Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, a Biden endorser slammed Sanders in a Thursday interview with Politico saying" that Sanders was, quote, trying to "Hillarize" Warren.

There's a new verb. We know what he's trying to say there.

SHEAR: And look, one of the things that's true is that the voters are ultimately going to decided the clash between these two just the way that the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton relationship got really testy and ultimately had to be resolved at the ballot box. One of them, you know, gets picked. And I think that's what is going to happen here.

VIVIAN SALAMA, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The irony is that these two win and was sort of a truce between each other. They were going to be civilized and not of this was going to happen and eventually they were going to have to distinguish their policies because they see eye to eye on so many different issues. But now we see this personality clash coming out and it's really interesting at the last minute shows how contentious the race is going into Iowa.

KING: Don't worry, you're likable enough.

Up next, Evelyn Yang's powerful Me Too story and why she's sharing it now.

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[12:55:52]

KING: A CNN exclusive now. A powerful, emotional account about sexual assault from the wife of the Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang. Evelyn Yang tell CNN's Dana Bash he was assaulted by her doctor while pregnant and initial chose to tell no one. I want to warn you her story is graphic and it may be disturbing to some viewers.

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EVELYN YANG, WIFE OF ANDREW YANG: At that moment, I knew that was -- I knew it was wrong. I mean, I knew -- I said -- I knew I was being assaulted.

BASH: Did you tell your husband Andrew?

YANG: No. I didn't tell anyone. I didn't tell anyone what happened. I didn't tell Andrew or my family because I don't want to upset them.

I thought, this happened to me, I can process this. I can deal with it. I can compartmentalize it. And --

BASH: And did you?

YANG: I tried. I tried. But I just didn't want to affect others, and I certainly didn't want Andrew blaming himself for not being able to go with me to these doctor's visits, because, honestly, if he was with me in the room, if anyone was with me in the room, this obviously wouldn't have happened. And at the time he was traveling a lot for his non-profit, and most of the scheduling just didn't work out.

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KING: It takes a lot of courage to do that. She has decided to do so because she believes she has a unique platform now because of the campaign. I urge everybody to go to cnn.com and read this entire story. There's a lot of complexity to it, including things that will outrage you about the prosecutors, about this doctor, about Columbia University.

But I want to start with the political reaction right out of that because there's been a lot of response to this since your interview started airing last night. This is from Andrew Yang. "Thank you to everyone for the messages of support for Evelyn. She's my best friend and the bravest woman I know. I hope that her story gives strength to those who have suffered and sends a clear message that we and our institutions must do more to protect and respond to women."

His rival, Bernie Sanders also tweeting, "What Evelyn Yang is doing is incredibly brave. I thank her for speaking out and sharing her heartbreaking story. We must do everything we can to eradicate sexual assault in this country and hold perpetrators accountable."

She has a platform, she wanted to use it to get -- to draw attention not only to her case.

BASH: And she says that in such an articulate way that she feel that she has a responsibility and an obligation, but she also says that it is an opportunity. And there are lots of reasons why she decided to come forward. One was that she was reading a letter from a voter to her husband who talked about the fact that something he said on the campaign trail made her realize that she should press charges against a business investor who she said had sexually assaulted her, and she thought, I have the same story.

The other thing that's going on here with her case is that she doesn't feel that she got justice. A lot of -- she's not the only one. There were 18 women initially who provided evidence to the Manhattan district attorney only -- and this doctor was only punished by -- he took his -- they got his -- they took his medical license, he registered as a lowest level sex offender but he never went to jail. And so what she's also trying to do is speak out, not just broadly for women, but there are other women involved in a new case, and she -- and they hope that they get justice. I should say that the Manhattan DA is saying that they stand by their legal analysis, but they also regret the pain that this is causing survivors.

KING: And speaking out now, she hopes also brings pressure on Columbia University which she thinks -- he was arrested in his office before this happened to her, correct?

BASH: Six weeks. About six weeks before. She says very plainly that she believes that the university protected him. He -- his medical facility was part of Columbia University by not -- at the very minimum, not making sure after that arrest that somebody was in the room with her. There was no one in the room when that assault -- final assault happened. She was seven months pregnant, John.

KING: That's horrible. It's a fantastic reporting and it takes -- it does take a lot of courage. To Evelyn Yang, we thank you for coming forward with your story. We'll continue to track it as it goes forward.

Thanks for joining us today in the INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here Sunday morning as well. I'll be here at 8:00 Eastern.

Erica Hill in for Brianna Keilar today. She starts right now. Have a great afternoon.

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