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Dershowitz to Present Oral Arguments at Senate Trial; Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) is Interviewed about Trump's Impeachment; Trump Adds Big-Name Attorneys to Impeachment Legal Team; Trump Adds More Lawyers to Impeachment Team, Including Ken Starr, Alan Dershowitz; U.S. Troops Injured in Iran Missile Attack Despite Pentagon Initially Saying There Were No Casualties; State of Emergency Takes Effect, Neo-Nazis Arrested Ahead of Virginia Pro-Gun Rally. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 17, 2020 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:16]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now.

Starr team. President Trump lawyers are up for his impeachment trial, adding a number of high-profile attorneys including a key figure from the country's last presidential impeachment, former independent counsel Ken Starr.

Contentious session. Senators prepare to reconvene Tuesday for what could be a rather long heeded meeting that includes the first vote on witnesses. Tonight, new details of what role House Republicans will play.

Eleven troops injured. The Pentagon reveals there were casualties among American forces who came under missile attack from Iran

And state of emergency. The Virginia capital goes on high alert this hour amid fears of violence in an upcoming gun rights rally expected to draw hate groups and following the arrest of three neo-Nazis who were allegedly planning to attend.

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

With this impeachment trial shifting into high gear next week, President Trump is adding legal fire power to his defense team adding a number of high profile attorneys. They include Ken Starr who's independent counsel investigation of President Clinton led to his impeachment, and Alan Dershowitz who was part of O.J. Simpson's so- called legal "Dream Team."

Tonight, sources are telling CNN that several House Republicans who were once being considered as additions to President Trump's impeachment defense are no longer expected to take a formal role. But some of the president's strongest House defenders are expected to help behind the scenes.

We will talk about that and more with Senator Ed Markey of the Foreign Relations Committee and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go straight to the White House. Our senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown is on the scene for us. Pamela, you're getting new information from your sources.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is right, Wolf. While President Trump beefs up his defense team with more high-profile lawyers, we are learning tonight that as of now, the team won't include the president's fiercest House GOP allies who the president had wanted to represent him on the floor. Those sources cautioned the situation is still very fluid just a few days before the Senate trial starts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, with his Senate impeachment trial looming, President Trump is taking no chances, beefing up his legal team and adding a few familiar names to help on defense.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you think of Ken Starr, Mr. President?

BROWN: Among them, Kenneth Starr, the prosecutor whose work led to President Clinton's impeachment, and who Trump has publicly railed against.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ken Starr is a lunatic. I really think that Ken Starr is a disaster.

BROWN: And Robert Ray who followed Starr as independent counsel during the Clinton administration. And constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz who gained fame as a member of O.J. Simpson's defense team and was an attorney for Jeffrey Epstein.

The president's defense team preparing for a number of unsettled issues including the possibility that damaging witnesses could be called to testify.

LEV PARNAS, INDICTED RUDY GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: I should be their number one witness.

BROWN: Among them, Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani's Ukraine fixer who was under indictment for campaign finance violations.

PARNAS: Because I am 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.

BROWN: Parnas telling CNN that he witnessed Trump telling a top aide that former ambassador the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, should be fired.

PARNAS: To my knowledge, the president fired her at least four times or maybe even five times and once in my presence.

BROWN: But Trump is sticking to his claim that he does not know Parnas. TRUMP: I don't know Parnas, other than I guess I had pictures taken which I do with thousands of people.

BROWN: In the face of the stunning allegations brought by Parnas, today the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo broke his silence.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I've not met this guy, Lev Parnas, to the best of my knowledge. I've never encountered, never communicated with him.

BROWN: And announcing the State Department plans to investigate whether the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was ever under illegal surveillance.

POMPEO: I suspect that much of what's been reported will ultimately prove wrong. But our obligation, my obligation as Secretary of State, is to make sure that we evaluate, investigate, any time there is someone who posits that there may have been a risk to one of our officers. We will obviously do that.

BROWN: And despite the brief distraction today with the LSU Tiger championship team visiting the White House, for President Trump, there was no avoiding the elephant in the room.

TRUMP: We will take pictures behind the resolute desk. It's been there a long time. A lot of presidents, some good, some not so good.

(LAUGHTER)

But you got a good one now. And even though they are trying to impeach the son of a bitch, can you believe that?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (on camera): And will truly after the announcement that former independent counsel Ken Starr who have tried to impeach Clinton would be joining the defense team.

[17:05:01]

Monica Lewinsky appeared to weigh in, tweeting, "This is definitely an 'are you f-ing kidding me?' kind of day." Meantime, Alan Dershowitz is saying tonight that he's not a full-pledge member of Trump's defense team. But Wolf, that is largely semantics, because he will be arguing on behalf of the president on the Senate floor.

BLITZER: And you can see him there. Pamela Brown at the White House, thanks very much.

We're also learning more about what to expect when the Senate reconvenes the President Trump's impeachment trial on Tuesday. Our congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly is up on Capitol Hill with the latest for us. Phil, the impeachment trial ramps up clearly on Tuesday but it's safe to say both sides will be preparing through the weekend. PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. There's no question about it. For a couple of reasons. We are told right now, the Democratic managers, all seven, are expected to be in the Capitol at various points over the course of the weekend working through their strategy. Obviously, they will have at least 24 hours to present their case against the president when the trial starts in earnest next week. They also have deadlines. Both the House managers and the White House to file their initial briefs for the trial starting tomorrow evening. And why this is going to be interesting, Wolf, is at least from the White House defense perspective, they will be the first line of insight of something that has been very closely held. How they plan to defend the president when they have an opportunity to do so on the Senate floor.

Wolf, you have mentioned next week will be the next time we actually see senators on the Senate floor for that trial, and it is likely to be contentious. The first matter of business they will have to deal with, voting and considering and then voting on a resolution restructuring the first half of the trial. And we know and this has been the case for several weeks now that it will be a partisan vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has unified his entire 53- member conference behind his proposal, something Democrats say does not go far enough, because it is not guarantee, subpoenas for witnesses and documents on the front end. However, there can be votes on that resolution related to amendments. Something Democrats have made clear they will offer at least one vote to that initial resolution on witnesses.\

So, we are going to get a taste of the tension, a taste of the disconnect between the two sides fairly early on in the process on Tuesday. That will all happen before the presentations. You're going to see from the House managers, from the White House defense team, which will be followed by questions from the senators. It is at that point after those two stages that you will again see opportunities for senators to bring up resolutions for witnesses, for documents.

And Wolf, as we have discussed many times before, the magic number here is 51. If you can get the 51 votes, either side on any combination, you can basically dictate how the future of this trial goes, whether there are witnesses, whether there are documents subpoenaed, that is what Democrats have been angling for. It is unlikely they will get that at the front end of the trial, but it is at the backend now where they will be targeting at least four Republican senators to try and achieve what they have been pushing for now for weeks, Wolf.

BLITZER: That is why those opening arguments from both sides will be so critical moving forward. Phil Mattingly up on Capitol Hill, thanks very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, thanks so much for joining us. And as you know, the president has added Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz and others to his defense team. What does that tell you about his strategy? SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA): Well, it tells me that for the first time we are going to have lawyers who will be responsible for defending the actual charge against the president. Which is that he was compromising our national security by withholding $391 million from the Ukraine government unless they engaged in an investigation of the Biden family. There was no defense of that. That was offered in the House of Representatives. So, this will give them a chance to defend.

My concern is that it is a very Trumpian team that has been named. And my fear is that this strategy might be to try to turn this into reality TV. Into the "people's court" rather than a Senate trial that has the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States presiding over this trial. So it remains to be seen what happens, but they will have an opportunity to work with the Democrats to ensure that witnesses and documents which were withheld on the House side are in fact included as part of the actual trial that will be conducted on the Senate floor.

BLITZER: Yes, the president has clearly a very high powered, well- known legal defense team that will represent him in these arguments. What can we expect from the Democrats on Tuesday with the Senate reconvenes for this trial? Will there be multiple amendments to the - let's call, organizing resolution?

MARKEY: Well, to be determined. But the one thing we want uniformly from our side is that we gain access to the witnesses that did not testify on the House side. That's Mick Mulvaney. It's John Bolton.

[17:10:01]

It's others that have firsthand knowledge of what the president was ordering his team to do in the Ukraine for his own political gain. His own electoral gain in his presidential reelection bid. We are going to fight very, very hard to have those witnesses.

And since the House impeachment articles were passed a month ago, there's been an avalanche of new documents which have, in fact, become public. And we want to ensure that all of that information is made available to senators on both sides. We are not sure that the Republicans will vote to make that available to us.

A trial is ultimately a search for the truth. And the truth requires all of those witnesses that have relevant information. All of those documents that shed light on this case to be made available.

BLITZER: Senator -

MARKEY: And if his lawyers engage in the same kind of obstructionism that the president has thus far, then we will have a sham of a trial and not a real one.

BLITZER: Senator Susan Collins of Maine is one of four Republicans you'll certainly be counting on eventually after the opening arguments from both sides to call witnesses, but she says she is still undecided on any particular witnesses. What is the Democratic strategy right now to gain those critical Republican votes? MARKEY: Well, we will continue to talk to the Republican members. I will be talking to them. Others will be talking to them. In the effort to hopefully get four of them out of 53 to agree that witnesses who have direct firsthand knowledge of what the president was doing absolutely have to be heard, not just by the Senate, but by the American people. In many ways, it is not just Donald Trump, but the United States Senate which is on trial.

BLITZER: If Democrats -

MARKEY: And my hope is that enough of them will rise up to the constitutional responsibility to ensure that it is a full and fair trial.

BLITZER: If Democrats do get to call witnesses, why shouldn't the Republicans get to call witnesses at the same time?

MARKEY: Well, I think the test will be relevancy. Do those witnesses have relevant information that goes to this particular charge against Donald Trump that he was seeking to compromise. American national security in order to gain a political advantage against a political rival in the presidential race later on in the year. That would be something that would have to be considered, but it would have to pass the test of relevancy. There's no question that Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, and others, pass that test with flying colors. So it all depends upon who they are talking about, not just however witnesses to turn the whole proceeding into a side show which is my greatest fear that that is what they would try to do.

BLITZER: And what if they want for example, you know, Hunter Biden to testify?

MARKEY: Well, Hunter Biden has no relevant information about what Donald Trump was trying to do in terms of explaining the investigation -

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But the president has repeatedly referred to him as part of this whole issue involving Ukraine.

MARKEY: The charge against the president is the ruling that the GAO made yesterday which is that the president illegally withheld the $391 million from the Ukraine government in return for a political favor. Hunter Biden does not know what the president was doing. He does not know what was in the mind of the president in seeking to accomplish that. He doesn't know what he said to Mick Mulvaney, to John Bolton, to others on his staff or at OMB in order to accomplish this goal which he had. So, it would have to pass the test of relevancy. And I don't think calling Hunter Biden in any way would meet that test.

BLITZER: But what if that were the condition for getting the four witnesses you want. How would you vote?

MARKEY: Well, I would vote no. And I would say that the lawyers which the president hired would be then pursuing an agenda which would clearly be trying to turn the whole proceeding into the people's court. Just trying to turn it on the a reality show, just trying to turn it into just a further extension of the goal which Donald Trump has, which is to charge the whole proceeding with being something that is a hoax and a sham without any basis in reality, because these charges are real. The offense against the Constitution is a serious one, and my hope is that his lawyers will treat it that way and not as a side show just to satisfy the president's ambition to turn it into a political circus with partisanship characterizing it rather than the goal to be a patriot that has all of the facts on the table so that the American people can decide.

[17:15:05]

BLITZER: You and your colleagues are all -- 99 of your colleagues are going to be very busy starting next Tuesday, six days a week during the course of this trial. We will see how long it lasts. Senator Ed Markey, thanks so much for joining us.

MARKEY: Thank you. Thanks for having me on.

BLITZER: Up next, a closer look at the new additions to the Trump legal team including the return to the spotlight for Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz.

Plus, some significant omissions. Why are some House Republicans who were the president's most ardent defenders apparently not on the Trump legal team?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Right now, we are learning new details about who will be helping with President Trump's legal defense during his upcoming impeachment trial.

[17:20:00]

Among the big names, former independent counsel Ken Starr and constitutional law expert Alan Dershowitz.

Joining us now, "The New York Times" White House correspondent Maggie Haberman. She's also a CNN political analyst. Maggie, what is the reasoning behind tapping these former Clinton impeachment figures, Ken Starr and his successor Robert Ray.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The biggest reason in terms of Starr is certainly that they are familiar with the constitutional arguments. They are familiar with impeachment. But don't discount the degree to which the president has been watching Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, another person who is going to be at least in some form, a part of the team, on television arguing that this impeachment is thin, arguing that it does not meet the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors that previous impeachments have met. And so what you're going to see is these people are filling a role that this president has had in mind for a while of how people will be presenting on his behalf during what is ultimately going to be a televised spectacle before the public. BLITZER: The defense attorney Alan Dershowitz is certainly a household name. A former professor of law at Harvard Law School, household name thanks in part to his representation of O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Epstein. He will take what he describes as a limited role in the president's defense. How does Dershowitz fit into this equation?

HABERMAN: He is going to make a constitutional argument. He told me that he is going to be appearing as he understands it, next Friday. That's when they believe. Again, this is going to play out on a schedule that we don't totally know the outcome of. We know it is going to start Tuesday. There's going to be motions and this goes on an hour-by-hour basis.

He expects that he will be there on Friday. He is going to make a constitutional argument. It is going to relate to points that he has made publicly. And then he says that will be it for his role. I think if the president pushes him to stay on, I imagine it will be hard for him to say no, but we will see.

BLITZER: As you point out, Dershowitz and Starr, they are very media savvy attorneys. Lots of television experience. Clearly, the president, as you point out, has been watching them on television over these past several months defending him for all practical purposes. How important do you think that credential was as far as the president's selection of them to be part or a key part of his legal team?

HABERMAN: I think that it was high on the list, Wolf. You know, I think that there were other reasons that these two lawyers appealed to the people who put this team together for the president. I think that there were constitutional aspects that Dershowitz is familiar with that they wanted. I think in terms of Ken Starr, they think that he brings -- there will be many people who will disagree, but they think that he brings a certain amount of gravitas having come from the last impeachment.

They are both targets. They are both going to become targets in their own right for Democrats as this process goes forward. And it remains to be seen how aggressively they're going to be criticized. But this is not unlike what we saw the president do around his Mueller defense when he brought in Rudy Giuliani right after Michael Cohen's hotel and office -- the president's former lawyer Michael Cohen -- were searched by the FBI. The president wanted a big splashy name. He brought in Giuliani. He's bringing in a big splashy name in Ken Starr.

BLITZER: And certainly notably (INAUDIBLE) from the legal defense team are the outspoken House Republicans that we know the president had considered. Tell us what happened to them.

HABERMAN: This had been something the president had wanted for a while, and part of this emerged the three who were really being talked about were John Ratcliffe, Doug Collins and Jim Jordan, and particularly in the case of Ratcliffe who is a lawyer and who has been in the courtroom before. The idea was that he had familiarity with all of the testimony, with all of the evidence. I am not sure whether he does, but that was the impression that people around the president had from talking with him and talking with others. And the president thought that they would make sort of a fiery case on his behalf, the kind of to televised argument that we were just talking about. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and I think other senators as well, really objected to this.

I think probably for a variety of reasons. But the main one was, you should not bring members of the lower chamber into this procedure. They have had their procedure. This is a separate one. They will still be involved behind the scenes. They will be on television supporting the president. So, they will be -- they are in some fashion, but they are not going to be arguing the case.

BLITZER: You also reported, Maggie, that the White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, the president's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow, they will be leading this legal team. Do you believe they will actually be driving the strategy, or will they now be overshadowed by these fire brands that the president has brought on?

HABERMAN: Look, Ken Starr remains the biggest question mark for me. I think Dershowitz is actually going to follow along with other people's lead much more. I am not sure how Ken Starr is going to interact with the rest of this team. Again, a big open question.

But I do think that Sekulow in particular is going to be directing a lot of this. He's been the closest to the president for the last several years. He's been the constant on the president's personal legal team, and he and Cipollone have worked very closely together. So, I do actually believe they're going to be at the front of this bus.

[17:25:00]

BLITZER: And unlike some of the big names, Pat Cipollone, the president's counsel. I don't think we have ever seen him on television at least not yet, maybe he'll make some appearances starting fairly soon. What do you think?

HABERMAN: I think it is really unlikely. One of the concerns the president has had as we have said many times now is about how people will play on television during this proceeding. And you know he has a lot of trust in Pat Cipollone. He has been concerned about how Cipollone will handle being you know under the klieg lights of this procedure when it is televised in front of the country. He has decided to go along with it. But I do think that's part of why you are having these other more known, more used to the TV milieu names who are part of this team. There are barely any pictures of Pat Cipollone on the Internet. There's like there's no online presence. So this is going to be a major moment.

BLITZER: Right. It is a smart move on the part of the president, but we shall see. Maggie Haberman, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for your excellent reporting.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finally breaks his silence and announces that an investigation into the allegations that the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, may have been under surveillance.

And is there any truth to the bombshell allegation from a former Rudy Giuliani associate that President Trump ordered the firing of Ambassador Yovanovitch.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:31:12]

BLITZER: All right. We're looking ahead to what's shaping up to be a rather contentious session as senators get down to business in contacting (ph) the -- conducting the Trump impeachment trial. Let's bring in our experts to discuss what lies ahead.

And, Gloria, the President, and we looked it up, as a private citizen, had this to say back in 1999, 21 years ago, about Ken Starr, the lawyer he just hired. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think Ken Starr is a lunatic. I really think that Ken Starr is a disaster. I hated the way the President handled it. It was a long and terrible process. I really think that Ken Starr was terrible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: At that time, Ken Starr was the independent counsel leading the impeachment arguments against then-President Bill Clinton, but go ahead.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, just as there is a tweet for everything, there seems to be a video clip for everything. And clearly, in the President's eyes, Ken Starr has resurrected himself, probably largely because he watches him every day on Fox News defending his point of view.

Ken Starr is somebody who thought that Bill Clinton having an affair with Monica Lewinsky was impeachable, and he believes that the President holding up aid to Ukraine for personal political gain is not impeachable. And so, the President likes him now, and he's put him on the team.

And I could not think of anyone who is really a more polarizing legal figure, maybe perhaps than Alan Dershowitz, than Ken Starr.

BLITZER: Chris Cillizza, what do you think?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: To Gloria's point, the most consistent thing about Donald Trump is his inconsistency. I mean, honestly, he's been all different parties. He's had views on a number of issues that are radically different than what he's -- that -- held now. He's said many things. The other thing is Donald Trump likes you if you say things he likes.

He doesn't like you if you say things he doesn't like. It's really very simple.

And Gloria is right, he watches Ken Starr. Ken Starr says, Donald Trump, this isn't -- this isn't impeachable conduct, and Donald Trump thinks, hey, I like that guy now. His likes and dislikes are as changeable as I've ever seen in anyone, and it's all based on either praise for him or criticism for him. And it could change in two, three days.

BLITZER: David Axelrod, what do you think of this legal defense team he's put together? What does that say about the President's strategy going into this trial?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I thought what Maggie Haberman said was really interesting. My impression of Donald Trump is that we are all living in his reality show now, and he is constantly casting based on how he thinks the show should play.

And he has recruited these lawyers off of television, yes, because they have defended him but also because they have some star quality that he wants. Because he is looking at this as a T.V. show. He knows how it ends, but he wants to make sure that it's a good show for him.

And he's bringing in these star characters because he doesn't know whether his starchy work-a-day lawyers are up to the task of, you know, enlivening the proceedings on his behalf. So we shall see. You know, I -- again, I don't think there's any mystery about what's going to happen here, but these guys in the mix do change the equation a little bit.

BLITZER: Yes, I suspect you're right. Lulu, what do you think?

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, NPR'S "WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY": Yes, I think that's right. I think it's really interesting. It's like back to the '90s. The band is back together.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, these are men with a lot of baggage. They are very controversial. Alan Dershowitz just spoke with NPR and told us that he had spoken with the White House before they appointed him and that they had basically said to him that they weren't worried about his links with Jeffrey Epstein, that they did not think that that was going to be a distraction.

[17:35:04]

Now, make of it what you will, but, clearly, that is what a lot of people are already talking about. I think the bigger question here is the strategy. What exactly is going to happen with this team, moving forward?

And I think you heard that from Senator Markey whom you interviewed earlier in the show. They don't want this to become a circus. They don't want this to become something that is, you know, going to be a distracting everybody, that the senators, especially, who will be making this decision, the Republican senators, want this to be a very somber and serious thing, different from the House.

But then, you have a different audience, and that's President Trump. And he clearly wants something a lot --

CILLIZZA: That's right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: -- a lot more bombastic.

BORGER: Well --

BLITZER: Yes.

BORGER: The President always needs his T.V. lawyers. You know, in the Mueller case, he had the Raskins. And Jane Raskin, of course, is now becoming one of his real lawyers in this particular case as well. He's got Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, who is experienced on television, but he wants his T.V. lawyers.

With Mueller, he had Rudy Giuliani. OK, he decided not to have Rudy Giuliani this time for obvious reasons, so -- but he's got to have the people he feels can play the outside game for him because the outside game, as you guys were saying before, is clearly what's important to him.

The senators, however, are not going to react well to T.V. lawyers.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Exactly. Good point.

BORGER: I think there is going to be -- you know, there is going to be --

GARCIA-NAVARRO: They're playing to different audiences.

BORGER: -- a different feeling -- a different audience, right!

BLITZER: Yes.

BORGER: Now, he may believe, as David points out, that it's over anyway, that he knows he's not going to get impeached so all that matters is the T.V. audience, but let's see what happens when it comes to deciding to call witnesses or not.

BLITZER: I want to --

BORGER: It will be interesting.

BLITZER: Yes. David, I want your reaction to what we just heard from Senator Markey, who wants those four witnesses to actually come forward and testify, that the House Managers want. But he said he would vote against that resolution if the Republicans insisted on throwing Hunter Biden into the equation as a potential witness as well. What do you think? AXELROD: Yes. I mean, I think this is the dicey question that the

Democrats met. If I were a wily legislative tactician like Mitch McConnell, I would try and set up that choice and hope that the Democrats stand down on it.

I mean, there really is really no reason to have Hunter Biden because he wasn't involved in this episode that -- for which the President was impeached other than that he was the target of the President's interest. But, you know, I think they're going to try and squeeze the Democrats on this and force them to make a choice because, again, I think the President is thinking about this, and his team, as a largely political exercise.

And you know, what they successfully did to some degree in the House was turn it into a political scrum. And it's harder to do in the Senate because of the rules and the decorum there. But this is one place where they can squeeze them politically, and we'll see how the public reacts to that.

CILLIZZA: And I do think, don't underestimate -- Gloria mentioned this. Don't underestimate -- Lulu did, too -- audience, who the audience is. Donald Trump is always playing for that broader audience. Hunter Biden has nothing to do with any of this other than, if he is called, it will be a big story. And if he is not called, he'd say, oh, what are the Democrats afraid of?

He has nothing to do with why he was impeached, but it's not about the Senate, it's not about people like us. It's about people in the country who he can say they wouldn't even let Hunter Biden come and testify. He is playing to that outside audience. He always has and has been all this time (ph).

BLITZER: Everybody, stand by because there's more news we're following. Why did the Pentagon wait until now to reveal 11 U.S. troops were injured during Iran's missile strikes this month after first reporting nobody was hurt?

[17:38:54]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The Iranian missile attack on an Iraqi base housing U.S. troops last week was more serious than the Pentagon initially reported. We're now learning that some American personnel were injured in that attack.

Our Pentagon reporter Ryan Browne is joining us. Ryan, how serious are the injuries and why is the Pentagon just now revealing this?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, Wolf, a lot of it has to depend -- it depends on the nature of those injuries. Now, we're told there were concussion symptoms and traumatic brain injury-type symptoms, and sometimes those can take a while to develop. In fact, the U.S. personnel injured, some 11 we're being told, initially returned to duty. They went back to their jobs. But as the symptoms persisted and some symptoms manifested themselves

later, they got additional medical screening. At that point, they were sent out of Iraq -- three were sent to Kuwait, eight were sent to Landstuhl, Germany -- to receive additional treatment, where they have MRIs where they could be evaluated more thoroughly to determine if they do, in fact, have traumatic brain injury.

Now, this is -- traumatic brain injury, TBI, is something the military has to -- had to deal with more and more in the recent wars as folks who are not necessarily directly exposed to a blast but suffered the shockwave, soundwave, including troops who were sheltering in bunkers during this attack. So it takes some a while to manifest those symptoms. Once those symptoms were manifested, these forces were sent out of the country for additional evaluation.

It was at that point that those injuries became more well known to the Pentagon. The Pentagon is only -- top leadership of the Pentagon is only informed of injuries and casualties when they involve a loss of limb, a loss of life, or a loss of eyesight.

[17:45:01]

These injuries are not typically reported unless they get to the point where forces are evacuated out of the country for additional medical treatment. It was at that time the Pentagon became aware. Eventually, they issued a statement correcting the record. They had initially said there were no casualties, no one had been injured. Once it was reported in the media, the Pentagon did correct the record, saying that these forces were being evaluated.

But it just really underscored that these missiles really did pose a threat to those troops there sheltering in those bunkers. The bunkers were not designed for a missile attack, so those troops very much under threat, only suffering concussions but potentially could have had worse -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, let's hope they're going to be OK. Those 11 troops in Germany and Kuwait now getting serious medical treatment. Ryan Browne, at the Pentagon, thank you very much.

Coming up, the Virginia capital, under a state of emergency amid fears of violence at an upcoming gun rights rally and following the arrest of three neo-Nazis who were allegedly planning to attack.

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BLITZER: A state of emergency has just taken effect in Richmond, Virginia amid fears of violence at a pro-gun rally scheduled for Monday at the state capitol. CNN's Brian Todd is working this story for us.

Brian, three neo-Nazis who allegedly planned to attend this rally, I understand, they have now been arrested. BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, and law enforcement

officials told CNN they believe those three men were planning to go to that rally on Monday in Richmond. This state of emergency took effect just moments ago and is going to last until Tuesday. Virginia's Governor is saying he wants to avoid a repeat of Charlottesville.

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TODD (voice-over): A state of emergency tonight in Virginia's capital city. State and local police deploying. Guns and other weapons banned on the grounds of the state capitol in Richmond ahead of a gun rights rally this Monday. It's on the orders of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): No one wants another incident like the one we saw in Charlottesville in 2017.

TODD (voice-over): That's when pitched battles unfolded in the streets at a far-right rally in Charlottesville, just an hour's drive from Richmond. A woman was killed when a car slammed into a crowd.

Governor Northam says state law enforcement has intelligence on threats of violence at this Monday's rally, possibly sparked by White supremacist groups converging on the city for the event.

NORTHAM: This intelligence comes from mainstream channels, both offline and online, such as alternative dark Web channels used by violent groups and White nationalists from outside Virginia.

TODD (voice-over): The FBI has arrested three men who, a law enforcement official tells CNN, were believed to be planning to travel to the rally in Richmond. The men, including one who, officials say, came into the U.S. illegally from Canada, were picked up on weapons charges. A charging document saying they put together and tested a functioning assault rifle. Officials say they're members of a shadowy organization called The Base.

OREN SEGAL, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: This is a White supremacist group that is very much active online. It's known for sort of memefying (ph) and glorifying violence and White supremacist tropes. They believe that now is the moment in this country to create a race war.

TODD (voice-over): Earlier this week, three alleged members of The Base were arrested in Georgia, accused of planning to murder a couple and wanting to overthrow the government.

There is no evidence of any connection between White supremacists and the people organizing Monday's rally, gun rights activists who are protesting against the prospect of new, stricter gun laws in Virginia. But hate group monitors say extremists often hijack issues like gun control to cause trouble.

SEGAL: What we're seeing extremists do, especially those White supremacists online, is try to take this issue, stoke the fears and anxieties in a community, and try to bring more uncertainty into the situation. That's what White supremacists thrive on, confusion, anger. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: One key question tonight, with Virginia state officials saying they're going to secure the capitol grounds in Richmond, some people connected to the rally are concerned about happens outside the capitol grounds in the capital city there, nearby streets where observers fear there might be violence, where extremist groups and others will collide.

But what -- and what are law enforcement officials doing to prevent that? Officials from the Richmond and state police on the Governor's office were asked by CNN about that. They are not discussing tactics publicly, only saying they're going to have a very big law enforcement footprint throughout the city. A lot of tension heading into Monday, Wolf.

BLITZER: I'm sure it will -- they will. Thanks very much, Brian Todd, for that report.

Coming up, President Trump lawyers up as his impeachment trial shifts into high gear, adding high profile attorneys to his defense team. And House Managers and their staff prepare to work through the weekend. Tonight, we're learning details of what to expect when the two sides clash on Tuesday.

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BLITZER: Happening now. Starr defense. As the President's impeachment trial is about to get contentious, he's beefing up his legal team. We'll look at his camera-ready and controversial picks including Ken Starr, whose investigation led to President Bill Clinton's impeachment.

Undisclosed encounter. We're learning about a previously unknown face- to-face between two key Trump allies, Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Giuliani. What was it about and why is it just coming out now?

And fire her. Giuliani's indicted associate tells CNN he personally saw President Trump demand the ouster of his then-Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Will Lev Parnas get to testify about that during the impeachment trial?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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