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11 U.S. Troops Injured in Iran Missile Attack; Senate Impeachment Trial Begins as New Revelations Emerge. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired January 17, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking overnight, several U.S. troops injured in Iran's missile attack last week on American bases in Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were 11 casualties in the attack, despite the Pentagon saying that there were no casualties.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's not that kind of treatment at al-Assad for one of these injuries.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Do you solemnly swear you will do impartial justice, so help you God?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): They're afraid of the truth. They don't want to see documents. They don't want to hear from eyewitnesses.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The House's hour is over. The Senate's time is at hand.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is a NEW DAY. It's Friday, January 17. It's 6 a.m. here in New York, and it's on.
The impeachment trial is underway. The ceremonial, scripted part is over. Now they're off-book, with huge questions about how the case will proceed and whether new evidence coming to light just now will be included. We have some new clues for you this morning and developments we'll tell you about in just a few moments.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Then this important update. This is a developing story. The Pentagon has confirmed that 11 U.S. troops were actually hurt in last week's Iranian missile strikes in Iraq. You'll remember the president initially said that no troops were hurt.
So let's get right to CNN's Barbara Starr. She is live at the Pentagon with the details. What have you learned, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn and John.
The Pentagon last night putting the statement out confirming that 11 troops apparently suffered concussive brain injuries during those missile attacks from Iran. Eight of them evacuated to Germany to a medical -- a hospital there for further evaluation. Three to Kuwait.
And the Pentagon putting out this statement from the U.S. Central Command. Let me quote part of it: "While no U.S. service members were killed in the January 8 Iranian attack on the al-Assad Air Base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed. When deemed fit for duty, the service members are expected to return to Iraq following screening."
Now, what's important to remember here is we know these silent injuries, brain injuries can emerge days after an event. So the military has a very strict protocol of screening any service member that is in a blast attack. And these symptoms can emerge days later.
But there's a lot of dismay that the Pentagon didn't come out and say this right away publicly that it only emerged after it broke in some parts of the news media, the extent to what had happened here. And that service members had to be taken out of Iraq, sent to Germany, sent to Kuwait for evaluation. Initially, they said no one had been injured. But again, in these brain injuries, concussion symptoms can emerge days later -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: We're just learning that, and so we'll be speaking to Dr. Sanjay Gupta coming up in the program about what those injuries might look like and how those troops are doing. Barbara, thank you very much.
The third presidential impeachment trial in history is now underway, and the battle over witnesses and new evidence is heating up. CNN's Athena Jones is live on Capitol Hill with more. So what are we expecting, Athena?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. Well, you said it. For the third time in American history, a U.S. president is under trial in the Senate. A lot at stake for Donald Trump's legacy. I am for the 2020 election.
JONES (voice-over): President Trump's fate is now in the hands of the Senate.
SCHIFF: Donald J. Trump, president of the United States, is impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.
JONES: One hundred senators are now jurors and must decide if the president's dealings with Ukraine warrant removal from office. Seven House impeachment managers hand-delivering the two articles before reading the charges. SCHIFF: Article one, abuse of power.
JONES: Chief Justice John Roberts will preside over the impeachment trial, swearing in the senators in a solemn ceremony.
ROBERTS: Do you solemnly swear that, in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help you God?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do.
JONES: Senate Democrats hope their Republican colleagues will take that oath to be impartial seriously, despite many publicly saying they want a quick acquittal.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): The chamber was unusually quiet. You could hear a pin drop. But the solemnity of the proceedings really was brought home to us as we took the oath and signed the book.
JONES: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are still battling over the trial's rules. Schumer and Democrats pushing to include new witnesses and evidence, including the new allegations from indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): We will never rely on McConnell. He already said he's taking his cues from the White House. That's not what he's supposed to do.
We need four Republican senators to join all 47 Democrats. We only need 51.
JONES: Of the four GOP senators Democrats hope will join their side, Senator Susan Collins says she's still on the fence, especially regarding the new Parnas evidence. But for most Republicans --
SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): When you look at the partial record and the sloppy work that has been done over in the House, and now they're bringing it to us and they're saying, well, you need to expand this. That is not our job.
JONES: And the pressure is mounting for Senate Republicans. Martha McSally, who is facing an election battle, lashing out at CNN's Manu Raju for asking a simple question.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Senator McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?
SEN. MARTHA MCSALLY (R-AZ): Man, you're a liberal hack. I'm not talking to you.
JONES: But McSally still struggling to answer that same question on FOX last night.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: What about Manu Raju's question? Do you want witnesses?
MCSALLY: I want a fair trial.
INGRAHAM: Do you want witnesses, yes or no? Why aren't you telling us?
MCSALLY: Because we're going to vote on Tuesday to start the trial.
JONES: Now, the president's legal team must now respond to the formal summons sent to the White House from the Senate. Opening arguments will begin on Tuesday -- John.
BERMAN: What a liberal hack Laura Ingraham is for asking, Do you want witnesses? Imagine --
CAMEROTA: What a gall.
BERMAN: -- asking a question like that. Athena Jones at the Capitol for us. Please keep us posted.
So after the president said there were no casualties in the Iranian missile strike against U.S. troops, we just found overnight -- out overnight there were. Nearly a dozen troops injured. What does that tell us about the attack itself and what do we know about the nature of the injuries? That's next.
CAMEROTA: While you were sleeping, we learned that 11 U.S. service members were injured in that Iranian missile strike in Iraq last week. You'll remember that President Trump told the public there were no casualties.
Joining us now, CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon. She was the first journalist to report from the Al-Assad Air Base. She showed us the extensive damage following that attack. Also with us, we have CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Arwa, John and I have been talking about your reporting since you showed it to us on NEW DAY that morning, because it was so striking seeing the damage and the aftermath of that missile strike. And you talked to the troops there. And so at that time, was there any indication that 11 people were hurt?
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There didn't really seem to be. Bearing in mind, of course, that the kind of injury we're talking about is a concussion. So the symptoms aren't necessarily apparent right away.
Or it very well could be that, for the soldiers that we were talking to, at least when you say injury, the thought is, of course, the worst-case scenarios. Loss of limbs, bleeding out, of course loss of life being the worst-case scenario. That, perhaps given everything that could have happened, this wasn't at the forefront of the conversation when we were talking to them.
What was at the forefront of the conversation was just how terrifying the experience was and how unprepared the base itself was to come under this kind of attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPECIALIST ERIC KNOWLES, U.S. ARMY: It was definitely scary at first. But we both knew we had a job to do manning the tower, keeping eyes front. So we had to do that more than anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is my room. A little bit more open floor plan now. But my bunk was right in the corner right there. This was my neighbor up here. Everything's obviously gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAMON: And it's worth remembering, as we talk about these injuries moving forward, that the issue or the debate that surrounds a concussion that is sustained in a battlefield when it does not result in unconsciousness has been going for quite some time within the U.S. military. And in terms of how certain injuries are categorized, especially because this is not a visible one, it's not necessarily the kind of injury that, in other scenarios, goes all the way up to the top of casualties that need to be evacuated.
Our understanding is that those who did suffer from concussions were, in the few days after the initial attack, evacuated to Kuwait and Germany. Because the al-Assad Air Base itself does not have the kind of medical equipment required to be able to treat, scan, or even definitively determine whether or not this was a concussion.
But most certainly for those who were there, for those who survived it, I can say the overriding emotion among everyone who we talked to was really a deep sense of relief and gratitude.
BERMAN: You know, it is interesting. Our understanding and our sensitivity of brain injuries has really increased a great deal over the last 20 years with the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And Sanjay, I just want to play the sound from the president once again where he said no Americans were harmed and no casualties. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No Americans were harmed in last night's attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So we now know that's not true, right? There were 11 people, including eight who have been evacuated for brain injuries. But Sanjay, how could it be that the symptoms only came to light after the president spoke? If that's what happened.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, that is possible. I mean, I've read the statement and heard the various comments about this. And it's still a little confusing.
Did these troops have symptoms all along? Were these symptoms found on screening? Or did the symptoms appear later? It's been nine days now.
And the truth is, symptoms can appear later. I mean, that does happen, as Arwa mentioned, even days or weeks later.
It is worth pointing out, these can be severe injuries. I mean, I don't want to, you know, concussion is even -- some people say is a little bit of an archaic word. It's a traumatic brain injury. We should call it what it is. So that's -- that's why there's a higher level of concern about these things.
I will also say this, though. If symptoms appear and, you know, taking care of a lot of these patients, if symptoms appear later, it is usually a milder sort of concussion, traumatic brain injury. Usually, when it's more severe, the symptoms are there right away. Blurriness, ringing in the ears, severe headache, difficulty concentration. So those things appear right away.
CAMEROTA: And the ones that take a while, what are those symptoms?
GUPTA: You know, more balance difficulties, difficulty sleeping at night. Head -- the headaches may be there. They may not be as severe. I often say to patients, it's kind of like your way of interpreting the world is way off. So you may have a bit of ringing in the ears. The vision may still be a little blurry.
So oftentimes, it's the same sorts of symptoms, Alisyn, but just much less severe. Sometimes patients don't even recognize them themselves. They find it on screening.
BERMAN: Sanjay, what does it tell you that eight of these service members were evacuated all the way to Germany?
GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting. As Arwa was just talking about, you know, I've been to some of these bases. And sometimes they simply don't have the -- the tools to do the proper screening.
So if patients have persistent symptoms, at some point the medical personnel may say they need to have a scan. And that may have been, you know, the place to go. Obviously, some went to Kuwait City, as well. They've got pretty good resources.
So I don't know how that decision got made, but clearly, a higher level of screening was necessary.
CAMEROTA: Arwa, this actually only stands to reason after watching your reporting. Again, when you showed us the rubble -- I mean, you were walking through the rubble. You showed us that cement wall that big cement wall that had fallen and that, you know, I think that -- I think they might have taken shelter under or that somehow that helped. I mean, of course, when we look at this, there might be some medical repercussions after all of this.
DAMON: Yes. I mean, it was stunning to be there and know that no one had been killed, never mind, you know, wounded or at least severely wounded at the time.
Look, there were the Saddam Hussein-era bunkers that are underground and fairly spacious. And then there are the structures that you're talking about right there, which are these sort of small bunkers that are shaped a bit like an arch. And they are meant to protect against things like, you know, mortars and rockets.
A ballistic missile like the one that was fired into the al-Assad Air Base is 3,000 times more powerful than what these small little bunkers that are located throughout the base were meant to protect from. And yes, there were troops who were sheltering inside these small bunkers. So it wouldn't be entirely surprising, given the size of what was being fired at them, given how everyone was talking about how the shock wave reverberated through your body, that people got severely knocked around and perhaps didn't realize it until afterwards.
BERMAN: All right, Arwa Damon. Terrific reporting. Thanks so much for the last week, helping us understand what went on there.
And Sanjay, thank you so much for your expertise.
CAMEROTA: That is really valuable context that we didn't know. And she has the pictures to show us, as well.
BERMAN: And look at you. And Sanjay's point, I think, is well taken here. The word "concussion" sometimes undersells. Traumatic brain injury is a serious deal. We know a lot more about it now, and a lot of people have suffered from it in the last few conflicts.
We are now in the wild west stage of the impeachment trial. Again, the scripted part is over. What happens next, very, very much in question. We'll tell you the new clues we're learning, next.
BERMAN: So new details and new questions raised by indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas. Overnight, we heard Parnas give new perspective on the process by which the president fired former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. This is what Parnas told Anderson Cooper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LEV PARNAS, ASSOCIATE OF RUDY GIULIANI: To my knowledge, the president fired her at least four times, maybe even five times. I mean, once in my presence at the private dinner for a super PAC in Washington, D.C., at the Trump Hotel. In the conversation, the subject of Ukraine was brought up, and I told the president that our opinion that she is bad- mouthing him and that she said that he's going to get impeached, something like that. I don't know if that's word for word. But that she was --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You said that at the table --
COOPER: -- where the president was?
PARNAS: Correct. And his reaction was he looked at me, like got very angry and basically turned around to John DeStefano and said, Fire her. Get rid of her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. Joining us now, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman. She's a "New York Times" White House correspondent. And CNN "EARLY START" anchor Laura Jarrett, who covered the Justice Department.
Maggie, look. Lev Parnas has now said a lot of things and sometimes his timelines don't exactly match up. One of the things that jumped out to me there as he's describing the president's process and firing Marie Yovanovitch, is he goes into a dinner where it sounds like he was having a conversation with the president, where the president continues to deny that he even knows him at all.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, we've seen the president repeatedly deny that he knows people. We've seen the president deny that he appeared in pictures with people when he has. We have seen the president even suggest to some associates that it was not his voice on the "Access Hollywood" tape. Right? So I don't think it's a surprise the president says any of this.
I also think that some of what Parnas is saying comports with what we know about how the president does things. Certainly, the president has been very receptive to aides who have told him previously, X, Y, Z is leaking or bad-mouthing you or doing whatever, and that has motivated him to turn on them.
There are some issues with this account, according to Parnas' version, at least in one of the interviews. He said that DeStefano told him that this couldn't happen. She couldn't be fired, because Pompeo hadn't been sworn in yet. In fact, he had been sworn in four days before the dinner. His description of the dinner doesn't quite match what I have heard about it from others who were there.
The general trend line, though, certainly fits with what we know already. I do think -- listen, his text messages and the pieces of physical evidence that he had provided -- has provided, I think, are the things that matter the most with him so far. I do think that not every claim needs to be treated as if it is completely factual. And I still think he needs to be pressed a lot harder than he has been by everyone on how he knows what he knows, what exactly he means.
He's speaking in these incredibly broad terms. Everyone was in the loop. Who? How do you know that? Why? And I do think that's going to be critical in the coming weeks.
CAMEROTA: That's what Jeffrey Toobin were talking about yesterday. He was saying that, if this were a real trial, or if this were even a real impeachment trial --
CAMEROTA: -- with people wanting to get the answers, you would go through it methodically.
CAMEROTA: You would have your calendar, you would cross-reference. You would go through it methodically.
And Lev Parnas said again -- we played it on "ANDERSON" last night. But let's say it again. That he is more than willing to do all of that. Listen to what he's willing to do for Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARNAS: But I should be their best witness. I should be their No. 1 witness, because I'm the one that got all the dirt, supposedly. Why aren't they calling me to testify? Why do they need Biden? Call me. Ask me what Biden did wrong.
COOPER: Do you think they're afraid of calling you?
PARNAS: I think they're very afraid of me. I would be very willing to testify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Laura, what you hear a lot of Republicans say is, Well, they should have done that in the House. They didn't do it in the House, so all bets are off. We don't call new -- we don't look at new evidence. We're just jurors. We don't call new witnesses.
But that's not exactly true. They can look at new evidence and call new witnesses.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They can. The question is do they want to expend their energy? And they're not going to get dozens of witnesses if they get any at all. Do they want to expend it on Lev Parnas, whose credibility is doubtful in many ways?
I mean, this is a person who's been indicted. Even if the timeline does match up and tracks certain events that we know, and the documents are bad, do Democrats really want to have him cross-examined about when, where, and what on every single score?
He tells "The New York Times," I didn't talk to President Trump about my efforts. And now he tells Anderson Cooper, Oh, yes, I had this dinner with the president, and he talked about firing Marie Yovanovitch.
These are the kinds of questions he's going to be under if he was actually to testify at the trial. And it seems like Democrats have a lot of other people that they could call that might prove more useful to their case.
BERMAN: It was really interesting, because what Parnas was saying, the first part, he was actually saying he should be a Republican witness. Republicans should want to talk to me, because I can tell them about Joe Biden.
HABERMAN: They do, but not for the reasons he thinks. There are some Republicans who actually are talking privately about the idea that maybe he wouldn't be the worst witness for us to call, because we could try to hit into his credibility, and again, just for the reasons we just said. There are concerns that he would not be able to hold up.
I mean, one of the -- one of the hallmarks is the Trump era is that anybody who is oppositional to Trump gets instant credibility. We have seen it over and over again. Michael Avenatti, Cohen at various points, even when he was, you know, admitting to lying to Congress at some point, after he had pleaded guilty to other charges. It's important to just assess these facts on their own.
And Parnas knows what he's doing. He knows that it's very compelling to go on TV and say, I'm here, come take me. And he's clearly hoping that's going to help him in his criminal case. I don't know that it will.
But again, I think that, if he got called as a witness, it might not go the way he's describing it.
HABERMAN: That's all.
CAMEROTA: So now there are, I think, up to five senators who have said they are open. And Mitt Romney -- well, Lamar Alexander, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, John Barrasso.
We have a new sound from Susan Collins, who -- it's a statement. She had said yesterday to Manu, Well, they should have dealt with this in the House.
JARRETT: Why wasn't this all out?
CAMEROTA: Right. But now, after she's, I believe, heard Lev Parnas, she says, "While I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful. It is likely that I would support a motion to call witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999."
So when is that point in the trial going to happen? When are we going to find out if they want to --?
JARRETT: Not Tuesday. It could take a while. And I think the question is what else comes out while this is all going on? Right?
So this weekend, we're going to see trial briefs. There's going to be a whole set of pomp and circumstance that goes on for quite a while. Meanwhile, people are giving interviews. More documents are getting produced. I mean, there's many different sort of government agencies that are out there that are being pressed by FOIAs right now to respond to things. And they're going to start coming out.
And so there could -- there could be a lot that happens in the coming weeks.
BERMAN: There is an answer to that question, which is that vote will happen after the opening arguments are presented.
CAMEROTA: Yes. What day is what I want to know.
BERMAN: They don't know, because the way it's done is by hours not by days.
CAMEROTA: That's true.
BERMAN: There's going to be 24 hours to present these cases, then I guess 16 hours of questioning. And depending on how that breaks down, then they will have that vote.
But that vote, the promise of that vote will be in, our understanding is, the rules that are voted on on Tuesday. What will not be in the rules is a promise to vote on dismissing the case. So that's where it stands right now.
CAMEROTA: Well, I'm just going to stand by to stand by, basically.
BERMAN: Exactly. That's what we have to do.
CAMEROTA: All right. Thank you, both, very much.
So tomorrow we could get a sense of how President Trump's legal team will run their defense. What do we know about how his lawyers are preparing? We'll also talk about the president's mindset with Maggie, next.