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Senate Impeachment Trail Begins amid New Revelations; Troops Injured in Iran Missile Attack; Four Senators Sidelined from Campaigning in Iowa. Aired 7:00-7:30a ET
Aired January 17, 2020 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": What happens, but he's impeached at last.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Ah, we can still laugh.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And this is just the beginning.
CAMEROTA: We just proved it.
BERMAN: This is just the beginning because the Senate impeachment trial is only now underway.
NEW DAY continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking overnight, several U.S. troops injured in Iran's missile attack last week on American bases in Iraq.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is 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.
SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): I feel that the president will be acquitted. And now they're bringing it to us and saying, well, you need to expand this. That is not our job.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The House's hour is over. The Senate's time is at hand.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Our goal is the truth. When Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell block the truth, they lose no matter what the outcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.
The impeachment trial of President Trump is now officially underway in the Senate for just the third time in American history. Major developments, of course, are expected, including potential details about how the president will run his defense. The rules for the trial will be set and opening arguments will begin next Tuesday. But it could be weeks before we learn whether Republicans will agree to calling witnesses as all of this new evidence has emerged.
BERMAN: There's also a developing story we're following this morning.
The Pentagon has confirmed that 11 U.S. troops were, in fact, injured in last week's Iranian missile strikes in Iraq targeting U.S. troops. You will remember the president said there were no casualties.
There were casualties. We're learning much more about these 11 troops hurt and the injuries they suffered. We'll get to that in just a moment.
Let's begin, though, with the historic impeachment trial.
Joining us, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior political analyst John Avlon, and CNN global affairs analyst Susan Glasser. She is a staff writer at "The New Yorker."
And, Jeffrey, the way I think people need to look at this is that the scripted part is over. And now everyone's off book. And they're making this up as they go along. And we just don't know how this will proceed starting Tuesday.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it is so dramatic, frankly, because, you know, the 21 years ago with there was the Clinton impeachment trial, both sides -- Democrats and the Republicans really agreed on how ever the events would unfold. Here they haven't.
I mean we just saw Elie Honig talking about these new documents that have come out since the impeachment in the House of Representatives. Will the Democrats -- will the House managers be able to put them in? If they try to put them in, who's going to stop them? I mean, we don't know. I mean there is so much, besides the issue of witnesses, which is the one thing everybody's familiar with, how this is all going to work is just not clear.
CAMEROTA: I feel like the framers really should have been more explicit about all of this.
TOOBIN: Yes, why didn't they talk about emails?
TOOBIN: What's wrong with them? Why didn't they address that issue? BERMAN: Actually, you know, you're joking about this.
BERMAN: You're joking about this. I actually think it's true. I think the Constitution is way too vague about how the Senate does this.
CAMEROTA: You've really been, like, down.
BERMAN: I think it's true.
JOHN AVLON, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Oh.
BERMAN: I think it's true. I think it's true. There's no provision for how the Senate is about to run this. And you are about to see the product of that. Mitch McConnell is going to make up the rules as he goes along because the Constitution makes it so.
CAMEROTA: Mr. Anti-Constitution here.
AVLON: Well, no. Yes, Mr. The Constitution is outdated.
Look, if you really want to nerd out about it, the notes of the Constitutional Convention gets a lot more specific. Procedural stuff, we've got two precedents on this, people. And so Mitch McConnell shouldn't be allowed to simply rewrite the rules at his own whim. And that's one reason why it's relevant that every single Senate impeachment trial, not just for presidents but for judges and senators has included witnesses. It is insane not to have witnesses or allow new evidence that's directly relevant to the charges.
CAMEROTA: OK, well, five people maybe, senators, have come -- I mean they are definitely senators but they may have come around to your way of thinking. So the latest count are these five on your screen, and that includes Senator John Barrasso, who yesterday said that he might be open to it. Senator Susan Collins changed her tune a bit, Susan Glasser, from at first saying, well, that was the House's job if -- if -- basically I'm paraphrasing, if the House didn't do it, isn't it a little late to the game? But then, apparently, she may have seen Lev Parnas' revelations and now she's saying that she is open to them.
So, what do you think, Susan? What's going to happen here?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look, also, Susan Collins is one of the senators who was there 21 years ago in the Clinton trial. And she was very notably, in fact, one of -- still in the center of the Senate, still a key vote and, you know, arguing for new witnesses at that time.
And, you know, again, I think you can't understate Jeff's point here about the difference from the Clinton trial. Not only were the two parties able to talk to each other and agree on the rules. The two leaders, right now, they aren't even on speaking terms when it comes to negotiate the contours for the trial, number one.
[07:05:06] Number two, what, you know, we have to say is that it's kind of crazy that the Clinton rules are going to be used here anyways. The specificity of that case was such that senators were terrified that you were going to have Monica Lewinsky on the floor of the Senate speaking about unseemly sexual matters. And so they came up with this way of having not direct testimony on the floor.
And so, you know, if that's going to be the controlling precedent, first of all, it's so unusual that it would come out of the specificity of the Clinton trial here, number one. Number two, there were so many witnesses and documents that were already available. There was a full grand jury inquiry by Ken Starr. There were hundreds and hundreds of hours of sworn testimony by all the key figures. So the senators were basically left to decide the political legal question of whether this met the constitutional threshold of removal from office.
This time you're still talking about establishing basic investigatory facts in the case that's being presented to the Senate. So it couldn't be more different even though the Clinton precedent hangs over his whole thing. It's really kind of crazy.
TOOBIN: And count me as skeptical that those senators, those five Republican senators, which we just saw earlier, are actually going to vote against Mitch McConnell. Yes, it's -- you know, it's very -- it's very easy to say now, oh, I'm considering witnesses. You know, these Republican senators always fold when Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell want something. And I bet that's what happens here.
AVLON: Yes, I'd only say that, you know, we -- there's a "Washington Post"/ABC poll showing that 70 percent of Americans, including 64 percent of Republicans, want witnesses. So, you know, especially those folks who are facing a tough re-elect, better look at their constituents as well as their conscience.
BERMAN: And 100 percent of people named Lev Parnas want witnesses.
AVLON: One hundred percent of Lev.
BERMAN: One hundred percent of Lev. And Lev Parnas thinks, or is saying in this new interview with Anderson Cooper, and we just saw this part last night, he says Republicans should want me. It's Republicans who should want me to testify.
Listen to what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEV PARNAS, INDICTED ASSOCIATE OF RUDY GIULIANI: And I should be their best witness. I should be their number one witness because I'm the one that got all the dirt, supposedly. Why aren't they calling me to testify if -- why do they need Biden? Call me. As me what Biden did wrong.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: 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)
BERMAN: I actually think what he said there is 100 percent accurate in the sense that everyone is afraid of him testifying politically right now. I think both Democrats and Republicans have some fear about Lev Parnas.
TOOBIN: Mostly Republicans. I mean, you know, Republicans fear one thing here, the facts, because the facts all point in the same direction, that this was a corrupt deal withholding the aid in return for dirt on Biden. That's what this whole trial is about. And Parnas is a very strong witness, problematic one, but in terms of the substance of his testimony that says there was a corrupt deal here.
AVLON: And -- but, you know, it also shows the problem Republicans are in because they've attached themselves to such a risky edifice of lies. They have decided not to do the common seneschal thing and say, look, the president behaved badly, but there's an election in six months. That should be behaving.
Instead, they've -- the president has brow beaten them into saying -- into buying into the lie that it was a perfect call and he did nothing wrong, therefore any evidence destroys that entire fiction that they've been bullied into.
CAMEROTA: Well, that's interesting because, as we just heard from Maggie Haberman, Susan, for the first time we're going to hear the president's defense. They didn't present a defense during the House impeachment. So now the legal team is getting ready and we're going to hear how they defend that call. Is it still a perfect call? Why was the money held? I mean we're going to get back to their explanation for some of this.
GLASSER: Well, I think John's point is right, maybe. Let's see. Their defense could be that this is an illegitimate inquiry. Yesterday the president, on the day the Senate trial began, called it a phony hoax, a witch hunt hoax, a crazy hoax, and I'm sure six other hoaxes that I can't remember. And it seemed as if he himself had been dictating the contents of the letter, the legal letter that his White House counsel sent over to the House refusing to participate in the process.
So, you know, count me still skeptical when it comes to the question of what kind of detailed factual evidence we're going to see from the White House number one.
Number two, I think it's really important in this witness conversation to realize that the stonewall has been basically complete on all documentary evidence as well. And that, you know, it's not just Lev Parnas and John Bolton. You know, the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, the vice president, Mike Pence, they are all key players in this. And even the written record from the White House about the withholding of nearly $400 million in aid, that is key information that the idea that the Senate would not continue to demand that is essentially saying that the Senate doesn't want to be a co-equal branch of government.
GLASSER: Remember that it was Congress who appropriated all this money that the president --just yesterday the GAO said the president illegally decided to substitute his own judgment for that of the Congress when it came to this $400 million in aid.
Putting aside the crazy allegations about bad men and Joe Biden and digging up dirt in Ukraine. In any other political universe, withholding that aid on your own authority would be a major scandal in any other Washington that I'm familiar with.
BERMAN: So, Jeffrey Toobin asserted that Republicans are afraid of the facts here. There is some evidence that maybe they're not just afraid of the facts, they're afraid of even being asked about the facts. And Exhibit A here would be Arizona Senator Martha McSally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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): Manu, you're a liberal hack. I'm not talking to you.
RAJU: You're not going to comment, Senator, about this?
MCSALLY: You're a liberal hack, buddy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right.
CAMEROTA: How practiced was that response?
BERMAN: It is the most basic, pertinent question facing Republican senators now. How do I know that? Because it was asked again by liberal hack Laura Ingraham.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM: What about Manu Raju's question? Do you want witnesses?
SEN. MARTHA MCSALLY (R-AZ): Well, I want a fair trial.
INGRAHAM: OK. You're not going to --
MCSALLY: (INAUDIBLE) didn't get in the House.
INGRAHAM: I'm going to play the game with you.
MCSALLY: No, no, no.
INGRAHAM: You can call me a conservative hack --
MCSALLY: Look --
INGRAHAM: But 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 and let them present the prosecution.
INGRAHAM: Well, how are you going to vote on the motion for more -- for witnesses?
MCSALLY: We're going to get to that. I mean I'm not going to tell everybody what all my vote are going to be. But obviously my point --
INGRAHAM: It's a pretty easy question, don't you think, Senator?
MCSALLY: I think we're going to proceed forward at that point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Good for Laura Ingraham.
BERMAN: It's a very easy question.
CAMEROTA: Good for Laura Ingraham.
BERMAN: She's a liberal hack. A liberal hack.
TOOBIN: Yes, Laura Ingraham, yes.
BERMAN: Jeffrey, what do you make of the Arizona senator's response?
TOOBIN: Well, I think, you know, the most revealing thing is this outrageous and ignorant thing she said about Manu Raju, who is a fine journalist and a wonderful colleague of ours.
CAMEROTA: Fair and nice.
CAMEROTA: I mean just -- always.
TOOBIN: And, you know, very well known on the Capitol among Democrats and Republicans as being a straight up reporter.
She's fundraising off of this.
TOOBIN: She has -- she has put this out. And this is just indicative of where the Republican Party is today that, you know, anything CNN says, anything "The New York Times" says is by its definition untrue.
And, first of all, it's wrong. What we say and do is not untrue. But it is also indicative of how ugly the Republican Party has become, frankly.
AVLON: And that that has become a strategic asset. They say that behaving in a way that debases their office, that diminishes the integrity of a reporter and that relationship and refuses to ask a simple direct question by being a cheap, kinetic (ph) attack on that, they fund raise off it. Who'd they learn it from? Daddy. Donald Trump. This is a downstream effect to the president.
CAMEROTA: Well, she's revealed her true colors. If you can't answer the question, resort to an insult.
CAMEROTA: And you just see it play out right -- right there.
Thank you, all, very much. Great to talk to you.
BERMAN: All right, overnight we learned that there were, in fact, U.S. casualties from Iran's missile attack on U.S. troops. Remember, the president initially said there was no one harmed, no casualties. We now know that's not true.
CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon with more.
What's happened here, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning.
What has happened is troops were screened for blast injuries. Those who were near the missile blasts. Did they suffer concussions? Did they suffer brain injuries? And, in fact, the Pentagon is now saying that 11 troops did suffer symptoms of concussion injuries. Eight have actually been evacuated to a military hospital in Germany. Three have gone to Kuwait. But all the troops that were in the blast area, we now know, were evaluated for these brain injuries.
These are the types of silent injuries that we know so much about now after so many years of war. We know that it may, in fact, take days for the symptoms to emerge.
The Pentagon issuing a statement through the U.S. Central Command late last night saying, in part, and I quote, while no U.S. service members were killed in the January 8th Iranian attack on Al Asad 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.
But, again, we will see how soon, and hopefully they will all be fine, they really will return. These are the kind of injuries where symptoms can persist and it becomes very difficult to diagnose.
Big picture, however, the Pentagon had said for days there were no injuries.
Now we know symptoms emerging, there were several concussion injuries.
CAMEROTA: That's quite a development. Barbara, thank you very much for all of your reporting this morning from there.
Well, four 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are serving as jurors in the impeachment trial, meaning they will not be campaigning in Iowa. So how will that impact the presidential race? Michael Smerconish joins us on that next.
BERMAN: One hundred U.S. senators now serving as jurors and also the judge in the impeachment trial of President Trump. Four of them also happen to be Democratic presidential candidates who were in the middle of campaigning in Iowa. The caucus is now just 17 days away. But now that is all on hold.
So how will their presence in Washington affect the race?
Joining us now, CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "SMERCONISH."
And, Michael, the conventional wisdom is it's a problem for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennett and Amy Klobuchar, that they're stuck in Washington at this trial and not in Iowa.
But as is usual, you have a counterintuitive view of this.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I see some commentators acting as if they are joining, you know, a cloistered religious sect. They are going to be in the eye of the storm. All the attention of the world is going to be on Washington, D.C. And so I recognize that the rules don't permit, for example, cross examination by a senator of a witness and so forth, but nothing precludes, as we've already seen thus far, their exiting what's taking place in the well of the Senate and providing come commentator to what's going on to members of the media.
And something else that I think needs to be considered is the fact that all of this impeachment process, if the Republicans have their way of defending the case the way they'd like to, means you're going to hear a lot more about Hunter Biden. I don't know that that's necessarily a good thing for Joe. And, frankly, from the perspective of Mayor Pete, I think there's a juxtaposition here that he's not in Washington because, well, he was the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Not that there's anything wrong with South Bend, but do those job responsibilities really compare to the weight of what's now on the shoulders of members of the U.S. Senate?
So, I think it's much more complicated than saying, they won't be retail politicking in Iowa. One more consideration, there are television sets in Iowa. The people of Iowa are paying attention to impeachment.
CAMEROTA: Well, I think that you make a very compelling case.
BERMAN: He's taking no prisoners here.
CAMEROTA: I know. I can see that. You've come loaded for bear. I can see -- and I think that it's a compelling case. But don't you think that the knock on the door, the personal touch, the -- the, you know, a candidate just doing all of that sort of gum shoe work, isn't that more effective with Iowa voters than, once again, tuning into cable news and seeing a senator opine from the, you know, outside the chamber?
SMERCONISH: Here's what I'll concede, it does place emphasis on the organizations that they've already built. But, frankly, they either have the bones of that operation in place to drive out their vote for the caucus, or they don't. I don't think that the next two and a half weeks would have made much of a decision in that regard.
I would also ask you to consider that if additional witnesses are called to testify, probably there's a preliminary step of those witnesses offering deposition testimony. And my point is, we could be talking not only about Iowa, but also about New Hampshire.
BERMAN: All right, let me take a stab at this. What about the fact that Iowa voters, and our reporters on the ground, and the candidates tell us that impeachment isn't what they want to be hearing about day in and day out? It's health care. It's how are you going to help our farmers? So even if you are right, counselor, that these people can be on TV talking about things in the Senate after hearing testimony, they're not talking about health care. They're not talking about these top three or four issues that Iowans tell us they want to hear about.
SMERCONISH: I think you're right. And I look at the same data that you look at. And I also have paid close attention to the focus groups that a company called Engage Us (ph) has done among swing voters. And they don't talk about impeachment.
John, I think yesterday changed things. You know, I've paid close attention via CNN. Just the setting, the solemnity of it all. I think there's what has happened up until now and there's what is about to unfold. And I think that now that it's in the Senate domain, the rules are different and more people will pay attention. And we'll know soon based on the viewership whether I'm right or wrong.
CAMEROTA: Michael, always great to get your perspective, even if it is -- SMERCONISH: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Quirky and counterintuitive. We -- always great -- always great to talk to you.
SMERCONISH: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: You can watch "SMERCONISH" tomorrow and every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern only here on CNN.
BERMAN: So, what is it like to be in the Senate and be told that you have to be quiet on pain of imprisonment, right? We're going to talk to a former U.S. senator who sat through an impeachment trial and ask him how will it be that Republicans may or may not be swayed by all this new evidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEV PARNAS, INDICTED RUDY GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: And I should be their best witness. I should be their number one witness because I'm the one that got all the dirt, supposedly. Why aren't they calling me to testify if -- why do they need Biden? Call me. Ask me what Biden did wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That is indicted Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas all by daring Republicans to call him as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial. Will they allow that? Will senators even consider new evidence at all?
Joining me now is CNN's senior political commentator and former Republican Senator Rick Santorum, who has sat through an impeachment trial.
Senator, I will quote from Rick Santorum on December 26, 2019, who said, I think you have to be open to having witnesses called to fill in where senators may feel they need more information.
Now that we have heard from Lev Parnas, now that we have seen this new evidence, which includes documents, letters from Rudy Giuliani, how does that increase the pressure on senators who are considering whether to hear new evidence?
SANTORUM: Yes, I think you have to look at the framework that most -- I think most Republicans, maybe all Republicans, look at this impeachment. And you left a -- compare it even to Clinton. When I -- when I said that, I actually was open to witnesses. And I think there are senators who will be open to witnesses too. But the witnesses are going to be about the record that came from the House. [07:29:54]
It's not going to be, for example, as you know with the Clinton investigation, there were a whole bunch of other things that were investigated by Bill Clinton, that many members of the Senate were still convinced that Clinton had done wrong and were talking -- well, you know, we need to call this witness and that. And the --