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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump Impeachment Trial Resumes On Tuesday; Inside Trump's Impeachment Legal Strategy; Sanders-Warren Feud Escalates In CNN Debate; Impeachment Trial Versus Time On The Trail. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired January 19, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:19]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): The impeachment trial begins.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Donald J. Trump has abused the power of the president.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: Everything was perfect, and they impeached. It's totally partisan.

KING: Plus, the new Ukraine evidence. Will the Senate listen?

LEV PARNAS, INDICTED GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: It was all about 2020, to make sure he'll have another four years. There's no other reason for doing it.

KING: The fragile 2020 peace that has progressives nervous.

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

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You called me a liar. Let's not do it right now.

KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King.

To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

The Trump impeachment trial begins in earnest this week and new memos filed by House Democrats and the president's lawyers preview the brawling political battle just ahead.

The Democratic trial managers lay out their case in a brief that runs more than 100 page, quote, President Trump's conduct is the framer's worst nightmare, the Democrats assert. History, the Democrats say, will judge each senator's willingness to rise above the partisan differences, view the facts honestly and defend the Constitution.

The president's lawyers have until tomorrow to file their detailed brief. But in a six-page initial response filed with the Senate last night, they took a scorched earth approach to the case laid out by the House.

Quote: President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both articles of impeachment, the White House memo reads, insisting the president's dealings with Ukraine were, quote, perfectly legal, completely appropriate and taken in furtherance of our national interest.

Setting the tone for the trial ahead, the president's lawyers assert, quote, the articles themselves and the rigged process that brought them here are a transparently political act by House Democrats. One hundred U.S. senators will now decide the case in Tuesday's debate over the trial rules will be the first test of whether Republicans are open to breaking from their president.

The chamber's Republican majority leader has already guaranteed the president will not be convicted and not be removed from office. Mitch McConnell's first test will be winning the votes for a rules package at least later in the trial, the question of whether the Senate will allow new witnesses and new documents. Either those, the House denied to that -- either the White House denied during the impeachment inquiry or the memos and witnesses that have emerged in the month since the impeachment vote.

Democrats' new brief details how several potential witnesses have valuable information, including the former national security adviser John Bolton, the chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. It also cites documents provided recently by Lev Parnas, an indicted Ukrainian-American who says he was Rudy Giuliani's fixer in pushing Ukraine's new president to announce an investigation of the Bidens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PARNAS: President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements. He -- I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Did Vice President Pence know?

PARNAS: Of course.

COOPER: Bolton?

PARNAS: Bolton.

COOPER: Mulvaney?

PARNAS: Mulvaney.

Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporter and insights, Julie Hirschfeld Davis of "The New York Times," Michael Bender of "The Wall Street Journal," CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, and "TIME's" Molly Ball.

Here we go. The first test is Tuesday. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday tomorrow.

First test is Tuesday, Mitch McConnell trying to get through a resolution that sets the ground rules. The briefs last night, a short one by the White House team, longer by the house Democrats suggest this is a Venus and Mars and it's going to be brawling.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, to read through that initial filing from the White House and the House Democrats, the managers' case, you can really tell that this is going to be an incredibly politically charged set of arguments. Impeachment obviously is a political process. Nobody had any illusions about an election year impeachment trial being politicized.

But you have the president's lawyers coming out of the gate saying this is a blatant, dangerous attack on the election and voters' right to pick their president, and you have the Democrats who are going to argue the case against President Trump saying this is a part of the pattern of conduct, this president welcomed election interference in 2016 on his half, then tried to cover it up obstructing the Mueller investigation, and did the same thing, or try to do the same thing leading to the 2020 contest.

So, there's going to be a lot of, sort of locking of horns procedurally, but certainly when we get to the oral arguments, it's going to be a big brawl.

KING: And they have to file first. The president's team has to file its brief of the case. Yesterday's short submission does not do that. My big question, because we haven't heard from this, they keep saying the president did nothing wrong, the Democrats rushed this, it's a shoddy case, doesn't reach the bar for impeachment.

[08:05:05]

If you read the Democrats' memo, 111 pages of it, it painstakingly lays out presidential conduct that is hard to defend. You can debate whether it's impeachable. But will that be the White House argument, that it's not impeachable or are they going to continue to insist as they do in the short memo that the president did absolutely nothing wrong?

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I mean, the short answer is they're going to try to do both. The longer answer is they're going to focus on the process here more than the substance. I think that is one -- one of the calculations here is that they view that as a better argument with the Senate, including a Republican majority that a lot of members feel like what the president did with his interactions with the Ukraine, phone call with Ukraine were inappropriate but not impeachable. And this brief is interesting -- or the answer is interesting in that

it lays out for the first time an official response from the White House to some of that. I mean, there was a quote in there referring to the July 25th call, that calls it perfectly legal, appropriate and taken in furtherance of our national interest.

I'm not sure if that's what the vote was on in the Senate, that that would pass the chamber -- if it would pass the Republican caucus, let alone the majority of the chamber.

KING: For the Republicans, it's interesting because we're in a math question. Politics is about math. There are only 47 House Democrats.

Even if they all stuck together, and that's an open question, that's an open question. But there are a couple of them that have political calculations, too. You would need 20 Republicans to convict and remove the president. There is zero evidence, zero evidence that that will happen.

But there are questions about whether enough Republicans will break on some procedural issues like when the Democrats want to call John Bolton, when the Democrats want to call Mick Mulvaney, maybe the Democrats will want to call Mr. Parnas. We don't know. He's a witness who has a lot to say. Some of it is quite damning. He also has credibility issues.

So, you have Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, more of a maverick, someone who tries to present herself as an independent telling local reporters, first we'll hear the case. Then senators will ask questions and then I'll think about witnesses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): I know there are political pressures that are on all of us. I understand that my responsibility is not to focus on the politics of where we are. I'm going to take my constitutional obligations very, very seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's a wait-and-see approach there from a Republican we'll all be watching.

Another one we thought we would be watching is Martha McSally of Arizona. He's up for reelection this year. She's an appointed senator. She's not for election this year, I should say, not a reelection. She's an appointed senator who's running now for her first full term.

People think Arizona's demographics are changing. This could be a very competitive race. She has a strong opponent. But Martha McSally has made her choice.

(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): Man, you're a liberal hack. I'm not talking to you.

REPORTER: You're not going to comment?

MCSALLY: You're a liberal hack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That is an interesting choice in the sense that she has decided -- Manu is not a hack. He's a great, respected, objective reporter. But that's a political calculation that, you know what, Arizona might be tough, but if I don't have the Trump base 1,000 percent on my side, I'm toast.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, you look at someone like Lisa Murkowski, I think that her life would be a lot easier if she decided to go all in and be supportive of the president the way her partner in the delegation has.

So I just want to defend her. I don't think she's making a political calculation in this moment or many others where she has bucked the Republican Party. That's part of her persona as a senator and it has been for a long time.

There are other senators who are looking more at an election calculation, and they may be in a bind if they're in any state that is less than sort of dark, dark red because, as you mentioned, the Trump base is going to be very sensitive to any seeming hint of disloyalty. You're not going to win an election without your own party's base.

At the same time, there are independents, and we've seen that independents are pretty open to these impeachment arguments, pretty skeptical of the president's conduct here. If you need any crossover from Democratic voters, they could react badly.

Now, both parties sob to be grappling with the idea that actually this election is not going to turn on impeachment. It might be an argument in the case for or against your candidacy. But by the time we get to November 2020, we're going to be talking about the presidential race, we're going to be talking about health care, we're going to be a lot of other things.

Still, they're trying to game out how this is going to affect things.

KING: How it games out.

So, the House managers, we can show you the team, seven Democrats, all loyal to Nancy Pelosi. Diverse group ideologically, geographically, philosophically -- they have to prosecute two cases at once, in the sense that one of the arguments is that the Democrats asked for witnesses, is Republican senators say that was your job in the House. That's not our job in the Senate.

So, they need to prosecute a case where they say, we do have a case. We have a solid case if you consider nothing new.

[08:10:02]

The president abused his powers, the president obstructed Congress. But they have to prosecute in a way to essentially say, but in the interest of fairness, it would be a stronger case if the American people heard from these new witnesses.

My big question is, we know they want to ask for Bolton who has called this a drug deal, the president's behavior. We know they want Mick Mulvaney who went on camera in the White House briefing room and said, of course, it was a quid pro quo, get over it. That's how we do things.

My question is, will the Democrats ask the Senate to bring in Lev Parnas, who is an Ukrainian-American, he was Rudy Giuliani's right- hand man trying to pull out some of this business in Ukraine and he says this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PARNAS: I basically told him very strict and very stern that several things, A, that he needed to make an announcement -- Zelensky needed to immediately make an announcement literally that night or tomorrow, within the next 24 hours that they were opening up an investigation on Biden.

If they didn't make the announcement, basically, there would be no relationship -- no specific military, there was no way they were going to be assisted, there was going to be no inauguration, Pence wouldn't be at the inauguration, and there would be no visit to the White House. There would be basically -- they would have no communication.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Again, he's under indictment.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Right.

KING: He has reasons to try to curry favor with prosecutors, Congress, anybody who can help him at this moment. He also has release add whole bunch of documents that back up much of what he's saying. There's no disputing he was Rudy Giuliani's helper, fixer, right-hand man, call it what you will.

The issue is, can the Democrats do they want to --

HENDERSON: Right.

KING: -- in his case, do they want to take the credibility risk and can they use that to make the case. You keep saying we don't have firsthand knowledge. Here is a guy who worked very closely with Rudy Giuliani, let him talk.

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, that's the big question. He's obviously saying one thing in the studio. Who knows what he would say under oath? Who knows what additional evidentiary documents and text messages he has because some of the stuff hasn't been released.

We have seen the Democrats mention Lev Parnas and the idea there's more information in their briefing, but whether or not they call him, whether or not they'll be allowed to call him is a big question, right? Whether or not any witnesses, whether it be John Bolton, Parnas, Mulvaney, will they be called?

And the other thing is, you heard Murkowski talk about political pressures. She's also under pressure from Republicans to call people like the whistle-blower, to call people like Hunter Biden, and Joe Biden. So, where will they fall in terms of this array of witnesses? Will there be zero witnesses or few that look like sort of the bipartisan wishes of the Senate?

KING: And part of that will play out, A, based on the success or failure of the House Democratic managers.

And when we come back, also, on the role of the president's big name defense team and how it plays out its strategy with the Senate trial.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:16:54]

KING: We should get a more detailed look at the president's impeachment defense strategy tomorrow. That's the Senate trial deadline for the White House to file its detailed legal brief.

The shorter six-page filing is noteworthy for two reasons, its tone is highly political saying the impeachment process is, quote, nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their fundamental right to vote, and it is signed by the president's two lead attorneys, personal lawyer Jay Sekulow and the White House counsel Pat Cipollone.

A half dozen other lawyers will assist them, including three big legal names who caught the president's attention, taking issue with the Democrats' case on television.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENNETH STARR, FORMER WHITEWATER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: It is a lesson and a nasty lesson in how not to do impeachment. It's an example of raw power being exercised.

ROBERT RAY, FORMER WHITEWATER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: It's a little hard to see how you have a fair trial over a case in which there's not any accusation of a crime much less evidence of one.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW EXPERT: There's no question that these two articles of impeachment are unconstitutional. They do not satisfy the constitutionally required criteria for impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And you see right there in those clips, what we're told from the White House legal team, each of those gentlemen will argue. Dershowitz will say constitutionally it doesn't meet the test for impeachment.

Ken Starr will say, historically, if you go back and look at -- there's not a lot of history to go through, but the history of judges as well. Judges are being impeached. That historically in his view, it doesn't meet the standard of impeachment.

Mr. Ray will argue, where is the crime? Democrats will argue that they don't specifically say crime but they moved crimes. But this is the argument.

But my question is we don't know how substantive they will be. Will they say Gordon Sondland was lying when he said this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: Was there a quid pro quo? The answer is yes. Mr. Giuliani conveyed to Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker and others that President Trump wanted a public statement from President Zelensky committed to investigations of Burisma and the 2016 election. We all understood that these prerequisites for the White House call and the White House meeting reflected President Trump's desires and requirements.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That is a Trump donor turned Trump appointee. That is not a Democrat.

It's my question here, do they, especially with the math being what it is, they could make a case that you don't like some of this, we understand you don't like some of this, it does not rise to the level of impeachment and they would be safe. The president wants them to say everything that happened here was perfect.

DAVIS: Well, obviously we don't know what's going to be in the brief tomorrow. We don't know what they're going to say.

And one notable thing about this legal team is how late in the game it came together. I think some of this is being decided on the fly. Certainly they're aware the president wants them to argue the latter, that everything was perfect.

If you look at the filing that they submitted yesterday, that is the road they're going down. They stipulate to a number of facts here. They talk about the transcript. We've read the reconstructed transcript of that call in which he asks for the investigation of Biden.

[08:20:02]

They talk about the withholding of the aid being perfectly appropriate. So, they're not denying this almost $400 million in military aid was being withheld. And so, it does not look they're in the mode of trying to deny the facts we saw come out in the impeachment inquiry. Instead, they're trying to argue as many Republicans did during the inquiry itself that this was him acting as president, he was completely within his rights and there's nothing about any of that that was illegal. They talked about corruption in that filing last night and the fact that Trump, they're arguing was trying to root out corruption and they talked about burden sharing, which is the argument that he has given for why he was freezing this aid.

And, you know, I think that's probably what we're going to see from them when it comes time for them to make the argument on the Senate floor.

BENDER: And they did mention Sondland yesterday. In their answer, they used Sondland, Sondland was an imperfect witness. They choose his testimony they like, Sondland saying the president told him there was no quid pro quo. Another piece of that brief was the answer, they take some time complaining about Schiff's caricature of the call on the House floor which the president has viewed as a fabrication of the call but very few people other than him have that view.

KING: It was a parody, and it was a mistake by Adam Schiff.

BENDER: Yes.

KING: It was serious proceeding, the very beginning to those proceedings to do that, but it's not relevant to the factual presentation of the case.

One of the issues for the president's lawyers is, as the Democrats make their case, are they going to say, well, why didn't the president mention corruption if corruption was so important to him? Why didn't the president on occasions like this outside the White House keep saying things like this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: What exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? Exactly?

TRUMP: Well, I would think that if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens. Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens.

I would say that President Zelensky, if it were me, I would recommend that they start an investigation into the Bidens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is Trump being Trump? Is that a legal defense in an impeachment trial?

HENDERSON: I think at some point in the conversation somebody asked him if there were other countries he was interested in investigating because of corruption, and he said he would get back to them. I don't think he's gotten back to anyone. There isn't any record from this president that he's really interested in corruption.

It is fascinating to see how closely this brief really hues to his views. It was a perfect call. There's nothing wrong with it. Read the district.

So, his legal team very much boxed in by his inability to admit that anything is ever wrong with anything he ever does. Very different, of course, from the Bill Clinton impeachment. He was contrite.

So, it will be interesting to see if this also boxes in Republicans, right? There's always this time when people thought maybe the final word of these Republicans, particularly ones in tough races, would they essentially say, oh, this was bad but not impeachable. You don't necessarily see it at this point.

KING: I do think the unpredictability of this. The president's lawyers are starting where the president wants them to start. The House managers will start where they want, then the trials are going to play out. Senators get to ask questions.

We will see. In the Clinton trial, there weren't many senators that jumped up and asked for a point of order, have more surprise. We'll see if this quorum this time, or some senators decide they want to make a point.

One of the interesting things maybe to me because I covered the last impeachment trial, there are then and now moments. Democrats argued against witnesses in the Clinton days, said it wasn't necessary. Now they want witnesses. Ken Starr on the president's team is defending a president, right, who has refused to give Congress anything.

Bill Clinton did fight with the special counsel back in the day, he did stall and did not want to give document, did assert privilege on some things, nowhere near the scope of President Trump. This is Ken Starr back in the day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: With respect to this phase of the investigation, the administration has been uncooperative. To the contrary, it has litigated numerous issues. It may very well be that the considered judgment of this body is any privilege can be invoked no matter how unmeritorious one thinks it is, that that's not an abuse. I disagree with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Disagreed with that back then. He's about to agree with it, right, that it's OK, Article 2, I can do whatever I want?

BENDER: Yes, he definitely is. The White House and the legal team are just -- they don't blink when it comes to asking these sort of questions about things Ken Starr said in the past or ties to past and current controversies members of this team have. There's just no blinking. They're going to proceed along the path. I mean, you hit on it earlier. The idea here of these folks, of this

legal team and how it came to be is that Trump likes what they say on TV. We're going to see Pat Cipollone lead this team.

Bu it will be the first time, I believe, that any of us see him on camera since he's been a member of the Trump administration.

[08:25:05]

These other folks are all relatively household names. They have TV experience that the president values. And once again, the president shows he's willing to overlook these kinds of controversies when he's populating his orbit of aides and advisers.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Ken Starr in one of those TV interviews said that Gordon Sondland was a compelling witness against the president. He said Democrats have a pretty good case for witnesses. President Trump once called Ken Starr words I'm not going to say on a Sunday morning, back in the Clinton days. But you know what? All is forgiven if it's successful for the president.

And up next, we turn to 2020 politics. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders clash over whether a woman can beat President Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:30:03]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, as a matter of fact, I didn't say it. Anybody who knows me, knows that it's incomprehensible that I would think that a woman could not be President of the United States.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE Bernie is my friend, and I am not here to try to fight with Bernie. Can a woman beat Donald Trump? Look at the man on this stage. Collectively, they have last 10 elections. The only people on this stage who have won every single election that they've been in, are the women. Amy and me.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So true.

[APPLAUSE]

KING: That from our debate this past week. Iowa votes two weeks from tomorrow, and it offers the first test of who Democrats thinks is their best 2020 candidate and whether gender matters in making that choice.

Let's go through a few interesting points. Number one, when we started this Democratic race, we had a historically diverse field, including six women at the beginning of the 2020 democratic contest. Three left, Tulsi Gabbard, Senator Klobuchar and Senator Warren. Three left of the six there.

Now, if you look at the support just in Iowa, there is a bit of a gender gap when you look at some of the candidates. Elizabeth Warren, for example, this is our Des Moines Register poll, run stronger among women in Iowa than she does among men.

Senator Sanders on the flip side run stronger among men than he does among women.

Same with Mayor Buttigieg, stronger among men. Former Vice President Biden and Amy Klobuchar, you don't see it as much in the numbers.

I want to show you some interesting polling as voters debate this question. And remember, we went through this in 2016 with the Clinton campaign. "USA Today" and Ipsos asked a few months ago, Democrats and Independents, are you comfortable with a female President? Eighty three percent. That's a big number. Eighty three percent said they are personally comfortable.

But run this one through with a psychology class. Only 39 percent said their neighbors were comfortable with a female President. So there's something going on there in the difference of those numbers about how people view this question.

Remember back on the debate night, Elizabeth Warren approached Bernie Sanders after the debate, said that he had just called her a liar in denying saying that he did not think she could beat President Trump.

Quickly though, both campaigns have decided they want to move on. This is Warren yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe you one hundred percent because I looked at you and I looked at him and I'm like, he did that. I know that Bernie Sanders said those things to you.

WARREN: We fight for the same issues. We've been allies in these battles long before I ever got into politics. I knew Bernie and worked with him on a whole lot of issues. That's all I want to say about that topic.

Because what I truly believe is we're going to have to pull together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is that last point it? It comes up in the debate, Sanders denies it. Warren gets in his face after the debate, essentially saying, you just called me a liar. But then within 24 hours, wants no more of this. Why?

HENDERSON: Well, in some ways, if you look at the timeline of the story coming out, and her immediate response was, in some ways, her pulling back, right?

She essentially said, oh, this was Bernie being a pundit and he is a good friend of mine. You saw in that debate, her saying, you know, I'm not here to fight with Bernie, and then she fought with Bernie and everyone else on that stage over the issue of gender and wrapped in the idea of gender and electability making a case for her own -- for her own electability.

You know, this doesn't necessarily seem like it's a good idea for either one of them, you know, Democrat who were looking at this don't really necessarily want to see this sort of infighting.

It's also true that women, when it comes to sort of sticking the shiv into a candidate, they get oftentimes much more blowback, right? It's hard to be an aggressive woman running for President, running for higher office in any way.

So I imagine, she is trying to walk a tightrope in the one hand, land a blow against Bernie Sanders and sort of gin up support, but also sort of hide her hands and I think, you know, a lot of women kind of face that conundrum.

KING: Sanders, number one, his ads have changed since this first reporting by CNN's M.J. Lee, there's a new ad promoting his record on women's rights and then they added yesterday to his schedule a visit to the Women's March in New Hampshire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: The message of today from me is that men and women and by the way, men, if you think abortion rights, if you think equal pay for equal work is just a women's issue, you are dead wrong. It is a human issue, and the men have got to stand with the women.

[CHEERING]

SANDERS: We are in this together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You can argue his campaign might pushback that that's a -- just let's protect myself here. Let's be careful. Let's see if this is an issue out there. Make sure I'm covering my bases here.

But it is interesting that among progressives, there was this gasp, because they think if Warren and Sanders are going at and their view of Buttigieg, or Biden or Klobuchar or somebody from the center somehow sneaks through.

BALL: And you did -- you had a bunch of progressive groups come together and issue a sort of unity statement. Many of them have endorsed Sanders, some have endorsed Warren, because there is I think a level of -- I don't think it's too much to call a panic among the Democratic base, about a potential splintering.

[08:35:01]

BALL: And I think we have seen candidates all over the spectrum be punished by voters when they're perceived as going negative too strongly.

The irony is that within the Democratic base, the candidates, fan bases are quite negative toward each other. Right? There are a lot of Bernie people who hate Elizabeth Warren and vice versa. And you see the same thing with some of the moderate candidates, the supporters are quite passionate.

But they don't want to see the actual candidates go too far, because there's a fear of splintering the base and they're all preoccupied with beating Trump, and also just because I think there's a desire for whoever the nominee is to be able to rise above and to be able to be a unifier.

And so now, you have a lot of candidates trying to fill that role. But it's tough after you have these fights.

KING: And good luck with the race so competitive. It's just natural instinct of a competitive person to try to -- to fight it out. The Iowa vote is two weeks from tomorrow, including -- there is a big debate. Joe Biden complaining yesterday about a video we're going to play you here, a senior Sanders campaign adviser, re-twitting this video of Joe Biden that cuts him off abruptly when he is making a point about Social Security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Paul Ryan was correct. I mean, he did the Tax Code, what's the first thing he decided we had to go after? Social Security and Medicare.

Now we need to do something about Social Security and Medicare. That's the only way you can find room to pay for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now, the video cuts off there. If you actually want it to be fair and have full context, you would listen as the former Vice President went on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: We need a pro-growth progressive Tax Code that treats workers as job creators well, not just investors. That gets rid of unprotected loopholes like stepped up bases and it raises enough revenue to make sure that the Social Security and Medicare can stay. It still needs adjustments, but can stay and pay for the things we all acknowledge will grow the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And so yesterday and it will continue to play out today, you get a debate, we saw a lot between the Clinton and the Sanders camp back in 2016.

The Sanders campaigned saying, oh, so what grow up? So we abruptly cut up a video that takes the Vice President out of context. So what? Because in their view, Joe Biden did and the record supports back when they're having debates about balancing the budget, back when there was an effort to reform entitlements, Joe Biden is on the record over the last 20 to 30 years of a time, saying we should means test Social Security, maybe they would have a government spending freeze and include Social Security and Medicare. We should talk about these big structural issues.

There was a time when Washington had conversations about the budget deficit, those times are gone. Bernie Sanders and the liberals then didn't like it, and they don't like it now.

So you can have a conversation about Joe Biden's record, but they get very prickly when you say you should have it in a respectful way, not abruptly edit a video to make it appear he said something he didn't.

DAVIS: Right, we're in a phase as you just said of the primary where things are starting to get very nasty and it is fair for the Biden campaign to complain about the way that video was edited and to say, you can't just, you know, quote him saying that we need to touch Social Security and Medicare and then not also quote him saying, and by the way, we also need to raise taxes and find a different way to reorder the priorities of our Tax Code so that we can pay for all of this.

But it is fair also to point out and this is going to be a theme from Bernie Sanders or whoever the surviving, you know, progressive candidate is in the primary in several weeks, that, you know, Joe Biden is a centrist on this.

He has been willing to go and touch what he has himself called the third rail of talking about potential cuts and slows to the growth of Social Security and Medicare in order to, you know, balance the budget and get the country to a place where, you know, the fiscal picture is not as skewed as it is now.

And that is an issue that many candidates have not been willing to talk about, and it will be interesting to see if Joe Biden embraces that history of having talked about that or backs off now and says, you know, that may have been the right thing to debate then, but not now.

KING: His new plan is more -- Sanders' plan -- but his new plan is more to the left and where Joe Biden was years ago. We'll see. I guess I'm asking too much. We should have context and nuance in these debates over very important policy as opposed to clip videos.

But next four Democratic senators, a constitutional obligation poses a major campaign complication.

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[08:43:23]

KING: As just noted, Iowa vote is two weeks from tomorrow. New Hampshire, the week after that. This is campaign crunch time, but it is also impeachment trial time for the senators who happen to be running for President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: By the way, I wish I could be back in New Hampshire and Iowa, but I will be in Washington doing my constitutional duty.

KLOBUCHAR: I'm a mom, and I can balance things really well. Those of us that are running for President have a constitutional duty that we have to be there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bennet are in a similar bind beginning Tuesday when the Senate begins a six day a week trial that will run at least two weeks, and maybe more.

So it will run up to the Iowa caucuses, if not through and beyond the Iowa caucuses. They have no choice, which is why they say you know, constitutional duty, but they cannot like it, especially given the race is so close in both of those states.

BALL: Absolutely. I mean, this is the time when you want to be making your closing argument to the voters. We still see a large block of undecided voters hanging out there, particularly in Iowa, where they're notoriously late deciders, and it can be pivotal to be able to see the candidate in person one last time.

And so it'll be interesting to see how they decide to work around this. I haven't seen much from the campaigns about like, are they coming up with holograms? Are they going to try to teleport people into these -- they'll probably, you know, they'll have surrogates and they'll try to have events with their supporters and try to continue the campaign by other means, but there is no substitute for the candidate being there.

And you have, you know, Senator McConnell in the Senate talking about the trial not only being six days a week, but being like possibly 12 hours a day. So it's not like you can even, you know, get done with your day and make a quick trip on a jet. Right?

[08:45:05]

KING: To that to that point. Something to jump in, if you look at -- tomorrow is the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, so you see all of the candidates are out, right, they're out in different places. I think all of them -- the leading five here, they will all be in South Carolina, there's some Iowa as well.

But then when we blank this out, you get into the week, Biden- Buttigieg, Iowa; Biden-Buttigieg, Iowa, South Carolina and D.C., Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Hampshire, Iowa. Look at these guys.

That's all D.C. Now Bernie Sanders to your point is trying to get to Iowa Wednesday night for a late event, but he's assuming the trial ends at seven o'clock and he can hop on a plane, go out, do a Town Hall and then get back for the next day's trial proceedings. That will depend. They're stuck.

HENDERSON: Yes, they're stuck here and listen, this advantages Biden and Buttigieg. And listen if they're not able to win in some ways, in Iowa and take advantage of this.

You know, I think it says something about their campaigns. It says something about this sort of enthusiasm. We'll see what Sanders and Warren are able to do.

And Bennet is obviously going to be there and Klobuchar as well. They'll send their surrogates. I'm sure they're going to be blasting the airwaves with ads. We were there this last week, and that was certainly the case.

But listen, if you are Biden and Buttigieg, you've got to feel pretty good. And you've got to know, you've got an advantage, and we'll see if either of them can take advantage of it.

KING: Right, we'll watch Buttigieg -- I'm particularly interested in Biden in the sense that he does have the freedom to campaign, but his name is going to come up during this trial. So he is sort of you know, deal with it as you go, but at least he will be able to be on the trail to deal with it.

DAVIS: Right. And the other thing that's true about these senators who will be in Washington, it's not even like they're able to go out and sort of talk a lot about their agenda and their proposals. They're sitting in the Senate chamber at their desk silent the entire time.

KING: Can't tweet, can't talk. We'll see how they work it out. That actually should be fascinating to watch.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next, including the Senate's turn to the question of the President's power to wage war.

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[08:51:02]

KING: Let's have one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS table, ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks, help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner -- Julie.

DAVIS: Well, the world does not stop for impeachment. The Senate still can consider legislation and has to grapple with big issues that may be coming up, and one of those issues I'm told as early as next week is a possible vote on what -- to rebuke President Trump for using military action in Iran without congressional authorization.

Tim Kaine, the Virginia senator, a Democrat, has a resolution to essentially force the President to come back to Congress before going ahead with any further military action in Iran.

He has 51 votes for his resolution. He announced last week, four Republicans have joined on to this effort, and so we could see a vote in the morning either next week or the week after, to essentially rein in the President's war powers at the very same time as they are weighing whether to remove him from office.

KING: Something else he is not likely to enjoy -- Michael.

BENDER: We have spent a lot of time talking about impeachment today, but over at the Trump campaign, they're trying to impress upon the President that there's a lengthy list of things they view as bigger threats to his reelection this year.

One of them is Mike Bloomberg and the billion dollars he has to spend on this race. Now, to be clear, there's not many folks over at the campaign who think Bloomberg is going to be the presidential nominee. He's at single digits in the polls, and his TV ad blitz hasn't done much to improve that.

But one of the things he is very good at is getting under the President's skin, and the campaign knows that every Trump tweet like the kind we've seen over the last few weeks, aimed at Mike Bloomberg has the chance of lifting Mike into the central conversation for the Democratic presidential nomination. And that's something that the former New York Mayor hasn't been able to do for himself.

KING: A little bit of men of Manhattan at play here.

HENDERSON: 2020, also Governor's races, 11 in all the G.O.P. coming in with something of an advantage. They've got 26 Governor's Mansions to 24 for Democrats, and we know in past cycles, the G.O.P. have really paid attention to state races in a way that Democrats haven't.

I think the big race that people are going to be watching is North Carolina, an incumbent Democrat there, Roy Cooper is going to face a really tough challenger in that state obviously, going to be in the sights of whoever the Democratic nominee as well as the President.

Why is 2020 so important? Redistricting. We saw the Democrats make up some ground in 2018. It is probably going to be much harder for them to keep making up that ground this go-round because of the large majorities that the G.O.P. have stacked up over these last years.

KING: Big tests of Trump coattails if there are such a thing in 2020 -- Molly.

BALL: Well, we've talked a lot about the impeachment trial being potentially scrambling the equation for the Iowa caucuses with multiple senators having to stay in Washington. But there's another X factor that we were reminded of this past week in Iowa and that is the weather.

There was a big blizzard in Iowa this week that forced multiple candidates to cancel campaign events and was a reminder that every four years, when you have caucuses in a state that is subject to so much weather, it's always going to be something campaigns have to take into account.

Whether it's, you know, in previous cycles, we've seen campaigns handout branded snow shovels to their supporters. Generally, though, the rule of thumb is the more intense your support, the more of an advantage you have in the event that there is extreme weather on caucus night.

Because if your supporters are that much more determined to go out for you, it's the marginal supporters who tend to fall off so that could advantage a candidate whose supporters are more passionate.

I'm not a meteorologist. I am not going to try to predict the weather in Iowa weeks from now. It looks like it's warming up this coming week, but you never know in Iowa.

KING: I remember my first Iowa white out, many, many years ago, carefully. I'll close with another case that guarantees the Supreme Court something most of the justices insist they don't want -- a big role in the presidential campaign debate.

The Chief Justice of course is presiding at the election year impeachment trial, and we're still waiting to hear if the court will fast track a case that could invalidate Obamacare just before this year's vote.

[08:55:06]

KING: And now we do know the court will decide this year whether members of the Electoral College must cast votes that match the results in their state, or whether they can vote as they please.

In 2016, for example, the election night result suggested a split of 306 electoral votes for Donald Trump and 232 for Hillary Clinton, but the final result was 304 to 227 because of rogue or so-called faithless electors who cast their ballots for others.

The Supreme Court will now settle whether the Constitution allows states to mandate electors follow the state election results and the parties arguing it should have; one that in an extremely close election, like say Bush-Gore back in 2000, a handful of electors could reverse the collective will of the states. Another case worth watching.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. We hope you can catch us weekdays as well. We're here at noon Eastern.

In the busy week ahead, up next, "State of the Union," with Brianna Keilar filling in for Jake Tapper. Don't go anywhere. Her guests include the Trump legal attorney, Alan Dershowitz, Democratic Congressman and House Impeachment Manager Jason Crowe, and Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday. Have a great day.

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