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STATE OF THE UNION

Interview With Alan Dershowitz; Interview With Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Interview With Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired January 19, 2020 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:18]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Impartial justice. After months of buildup, President Trump's impeachment trial begins, with legal teams preparing through the weekend.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The House's hour is over. The Senate's time is at hand.

KEILAR: What are both sides revealing about their strategies? One of the attorneys speaking for the president, Alan Dershowitz, is next, and House manager Congressman Jason Crow in moments.

And ground rules. The trial will put all 100 U.S. senators on the record, with new, potentially damaging information about the case still emerging. Will the senators vote to hear more?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): To have no witnesses would be a dramatic break with precedent.

KEILAR: Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown joins me coming up.

Plus: jury duty. Four presidential candidates are forced off of the campaign trail just two weeks before Iowans vote.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Between you and me, I would prefer to be in Iowa.

KEILAR: The impact of the Senate impeachment trial on the first contest of 2020.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Hello. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is bracing for a fight.

And we begin this morning with our first look at what the Senate trial of President Donald J. Trump will look like.

Last night, the House impeachment managers filed a legal brief urging senators to consider their place in history and remove the president from office for conduct they called -- quote -- "the framers' worst nightmare," arguing President Trump put his own political interests above the countries' and poses a threat to national security.

And for the first time, the president's legal team laid out their initial strategy, full of attacks on House Democrats, accusing them of -- quote -- "a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election" and denying the charges in the articles of impeachment brought against the president, saying the president's dealings with Ukraine were -- quote -- "perfectly legal and entirely appropriate."

Joining me now, one of the attorneys who will speak on behalf of the president in the Senate trial, Alan Dershowitz. He's the author of the book "The Case Against Impeaching Trump," as well as his former law student CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Thank you both for being with us.

And, Alan, President Trump listed your name on a press release of his -- quote -- "Senate trial counsel."

You have said that you're not -- quote -- "a full-fledged member of his legal team."

So, which is it?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, TRUMP IMPEACHMENT DEFENSE TEAM MEMBER: Both.

I am a member of the legal team. I'm making what could be the most important argument on the floor of the Senate, namely, that, even if everything that is alleged by the House managers is proven or taken as true, they would not rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

I will be paraphrasing the successful argument made by Justice Benjamin Curtis in the trial of Andrew Johnson back in the 1860s, where he argued that the framers intended for impeachable conduct only to be criminal-like conduct or conduct that is prohibited by the criminal law.

KEILAR: But how can you be both?

DERSHOWITZ: Yes.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, isn't -- are what you're really doing, Alan, is trying to sort of elevate yourself beyond being a lawyer, as sort of a neutral expert?

But you're just a lawyer.

DERSHOWITZ: No, I'm a lawyer.

TOOBIN: And there's nothing wrong with that, but you're just a lawyer...

DERSHOWITZ: I'm just...

TOOBIN: ... representing a client. (CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ: I'm just a lawyer.

I have done this a dozen times. I have been of counsel in many cases solely on the constitutional issue. That is, I present the constitutional issue...

KEILAR: You -- but...

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ: I'm not involved in the day-to-day issues, such as..

KEILAR: But you haven't argued on the floor on the Senate dozens of times or a dozen times.

DERSHOWITZ: No, I actually was on the floor of the Senate once on behalf of Senator...

KEILAR: Once.

DERSHOWITZ: ... Alan Cranston many years ago.

KEILAR: So, who hired -- but -- OK, but in this case...

DERSHOWITZ: But very few people have argued -- go ahead, yes.

KEILAR: I just -- I want to make this clear, because I'm not seeing this clearly, Alan..

Who hired you?

DERSHOWITZ: I was asked by the president's defense team to become of counsel on the specific issue of the criteria, the constitutional criteria for impeachment.

That's a very important issue. I will be making that argument as an advocate, not as an expert witness. I will be advocating against impeachment of this president, based on the constitutional criteria in the Constitution, the framers' debates, the Federalist Papers, the history of the three prior impeachment cases, the scholarly arguments that have been made on all sides.

I will be presenting a very strong argument. If you want a prelude of my argument, read the great speech of Justice Benjamin Curtis, who, remember, was the Supreme Court justice who dissented in Dred Scott.

And he made the successful argument in front of the Senate that, in order for a president to be impeached -- and Johnson was impeached on charges that didn't include criminal conduct. He argued successfully to the Senate that criminal-like conduct is required.

[09:05:11]

That argument prevailed. I will be making that argument as a lawyer on behalf of the president's defense team against impeachment. That's my role. It's very clear. I have done it before.

It's a common role that lawyers play, to be specialized lawyers, of counsel, on particular constitutional issues.

KEILAR: So...

DERSHOWITZ: And that's what I will be doing.

KEILAR: I mean, I think of it like special teams on a football team, then, perhaps. You are still on the team, very important to note.

Jeffrey...

DERSHOWITZ: That's fine. I'm the kicker. I'm the kicker, and I can win the -- I can...

KEILAR: All right, you're the kicker. You can win the game.

DERSHOWITZ: ... kick the field goal that wins the game.

KEILAR: That's right.

DERSHOWITZ: Right.

KEILAR: Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, I think we're playing semantic games, to a certain extent, but I think we should be very clear...

DERSHOWITZ: You are.

TOOBIN: ... what Alan is doing is making an argument against witnesses, because what Alan is saying -- and you correct me if I'm wrong -- is that, even if everything that the defense -- the Democrats allege is true, there's still no impeachable offense here.

So that means...

DERSHOWITZ: Well, that's right.

TOOBIN: ... there's no need for witnesses.

Isn't that right?

DERSHOWITZ: No, that's -- that's -- that's partly right.

I mean, if a person is indicted on something that's not a crime, you don't call witnesses. But the House still has the ability to go back and call witnesses, reframe the articles of impeachment in order to set out impeachable offenses. But under the current articles of impeachment...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: We're only doing one impeachment -- one impeachment at a time, Alan, right now. DERSHOWITZ: OK. Right.

KEILAR: Should there be fact witnesses in a Senate trial, Alan?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, that's a matter for the Senate.

The Constitution doesn't speak to that issue. It just simply says the Senate is the sole determinant of guilt. They will have to determine whether to call witnesses.

The one thing the Constitution would require...

KEILAR: What do you think?

DERSHOWITZ: ... is, if witnesses are called on one side, they have to be called on the other side.

What I would think is, wait until after all the opening arguments are made. Let's see if witnesses are called for. And, if they are, the trial will take a much longer time, because the Democrats will call John Bolton. The president will invoke executive privilege.

It will have to go to the courts. The courts will resolve it.

The reason the Democrats didn't call John Bolton and didn't have...

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ: Let me finish.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Well, let me just -- no, but, on executive privilege...

DERSHOWITZ: Sure.

KEILAR: ... many of the conversations, the relevant ones John Bolton had about Mick Mulvaney, about Gordon Sondland with Fiona Hill, had not -- they were not with the president.

There are many things he can testify to that don't -- aren't governed by executive privilege.

DERSHOWITZ: And that's -- and the courts will -- and the courts will determine that.

The courts may determine that he has to testify. And, question by question, executive privilege can be invoked and tested.

All I'm saying is, if that happens, the trial will be delayed. I don't think we're in a position now to know whether witnesses will be called.

If my argument succeeds, if my argument prevails that there is no impeachable offense charge, Mr. Toobin is right, then there is no need for witnesses. If my argument fails... TOOBIN: Right.

DERSHOWITZ: ... then perhaps witnesses would have to be called.

TOOBIN: And I think that's the -- that's the key point...

DERSHOWITZ: Right.

TOOBIN: ... is that Alan's argument is not just against impeachment. It's against witnesses.

And you can be sure that's how it will be used by his fellow Republican -- by the Republican...

DERSHOWITZ: I agree with that.

If my argument...

TOOBIN: Yes.

DERSHOWITZ: I agree with that.

If my argument succeeds, there's no need for witnesses. Indeed, there's no need for even arguments, any further arguments. If the House charges do not include impeachable offenses, that's really the end of the matter, and the Senate should vote to acquit, or even to dismiss.

Now, that motion is not going to be made. It was made in the Clinton case. Remember, I was involved in the Clinton case. I was a witness for Clinton. I consulted with the Clinton team.

I was also -- expressed very strong views about the Nixon impeachment. I had been consistent in my views on impeachment since the 1970s. That's more than I can say for some of my other academic colleagues, who seem to be making their arguments based on partisan considerations.

I'm a liberal Democrat who -- making this argument in a nonpartisan way.

TOOBIN: Alan, Alan, let's talk about Clinton for a second.

DERSHOWITZ: Yes.

TOOBIN: Isn't -- isn't the real point of why you opposed -- you opposed Bill Clinton's impeachment is that it was not an abuse of presidential power to lie about Monica Lewinsky under oath?

DERSHOWITZ: No. No, absolutely not, absolutely not.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Well, let me finish. Let me finish.

DERSHOWITZ: OK. TOOBIN: Isn't the point of impeachment to police a president's power, not just any wrongdoing, but the fact that a -- only a -- you or I cannot withhold aid from Ukraine. Only a president can do that.

DERSHOWITZ: Right.

TOOBIN: And that's why it can be an abuse of power if he does it for improper purposes.

Bill Clinton was not abusing presidential power.

DERSHOWITZ: That's not the reason I opposed his impeachment.

I opposed his impeachment because it didn't allege an impeachable offense. It didn't allege a high crime. It alleged a low crime, a crime much like the one Hamilton committed when he was the secretary of treasury, when he committed adultery and paid hush money.

[09:10:06]

KEILAR: So, is it...

DERSHOWITZ: Those are not impeachable offenses.

Let me -- let me make one important point...

KEILAR: OK.

DERSHOWITZ: ... because I'm going to make this on the floor of the Senate too.

And that is, there is a confusion between the reasons for having impeachment -- and those include, we don't want to see presidents who are dishonest. We don't want to see presidents who abuse their power. That's all true.

But then, when it comes to coming up with the criteria for impeachment, we don't use terms like dishonesty or abuse or maladministration or malpractice.

We have to focus in on specific criteria to avoid weaponization of impeachment.

So, there's an enormous difference between the reasons we have impeachment on the one hand, and the criteria for impeachment on the other hand.

Let me give you another example from history.

KEILAR: So, are you saying that it's not -- are you saying that it's not necessarily that what the president did was not wrong or rising to a certain level; it's actually just that House Democrats mislabeled it, that they have labeled it in a way...

DERSHOWITZ: No.

KEILAR: ... that could make this weaponized, because it's too general or it's not fitting the criteria that you think it should?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, not that I think it should, that the Constitution thinks it should, that Justice Curtis thinks it should, and that the framers of the Constitution think it should.

The reason that they came up with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress is that...

KEILAR: And there's debate on that, I should say.

DERSHOWITZ: Yes.

And -- and the reason they came up with those is, they could not honestly get a majority to charge bribery, treason or other high crimes and misdemeanors. So they went back to obstruction and to abuse.

And those do not fit the constitutional criteria.

TOOBIN: Alan, that's not true.

DERSHOWITZ: That's the argument I will make...

TOOBIN: Alan...

DERSHOWITZ: I think it's important for that -- I think it's important for that argument to be heard by the Senate.

TOOBIN: Of course...

DERSHOWITZ: Let the senators decide whether my view prevails or the views of others are better.

TOOBIN: Of course, the House said that these -- these were high crimes and misdemeanors.

And I think it's important that everyone know that the argument you're making, that the president has to commit, in a sense, a criminal offense, a violation of a -- commit a crime in order to be impeached, has never been adopted.

DERSHOWITZ: That's what Curtis said.

TOOBIN: Well, that may be what Curtis said.

DERSHOWITZ: Yes, it has been. No, you're just dead wrong. That's what Curtis said.

TOOBIN: Alan, in 1974, the House committee -- the Judiciary Committee wrote an entire report saying there was no reason -- that impeachable offenses do not have to be crimes.

DERSHOWITZ: That's a committee report.

TOOBIN: But it...

DERSHOWITZ: That's -- you said it was never adopted.

The Senate refused to remove Andrew Johnson because Justice Curtis successfully argued that you need a crime.

TOOBIN: Alan, that's not...

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ: Without a crime, there can be no impeachment. That's what Curtis argued. That's what the Senate concluded.

That is the only governing precedent that we have for an actual trial in the Senate.

You can argue all you want about what the -- what the committee put into a report. That's not binding. What's binding is what the Senate did, what the actual outcome of the case was, what Curtis argued, who was the most distinguished constitutional scholar of his day, the dissenter in Dred Scott. And you're dismissing that.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Jeff.

TOOBIN: The idea that the argument made by one lawyer in 1868 is somehow binding on senators 200 years, almost 150 years later...

DERSHOWITZ: I didn't say binding -- persuasive, not binding, but persuasive.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Every scholar, except you...

KEILAR: OK.

TOOBIN: ... that has looked at this issue about whether it has to be a crime in order to be an impeachable offense has said no, whether it's looking at Alexander Hamilton in 186 -- in Federalist 65.

(CROSSTALK)

DERSHOWITZ: That's just not true. Look at the Harvard...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I mean, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: I want to interject here. I want to interject.

DERSHOWITZ: "The Harvard Law Review" had an article in 19 -- in 2018...

KEILAR: OK. DERSHOWITZ: ... which took the Curtis view and took my view. Others have taken the Curtis view and my view.

KEILAR: Gentlemen...

DERSHOWITZ: Look, it's important for the Senate to hear all these views. Let them hear and decide.

KEILAR: Alan -- Alan -- and they will hear and decide.

TOOBIN: That, I agree.

KEILAR: They will hear and decide.

And, Alan, I have an important question that I want to ask you about.

DERSHOWITZ: Sure. Please.

KEILAR: This is more about from a public opinion standpoint.

DERSHOWITZ: Sure.

KEILAR: You are on the defense team. Ken Starr is on the defense team.

You have both represented some controversial figures, among them...

DERSHOWITZ: That's our job. That's our job.

KEILAR: That's right -- Jeffrey Epstein.

The two of you were integral in coming to a lenient plea deal in Florida that has gotten a lot of attention, has been very controversial.

DERSHOWITZ: That's our job, yes.

KEILAR: Sure. That -- that was your job in the case of your client Jeffrey Epstein.

Do you think that the two of you being a part of this, considering how unpalatable an association, a legal association with Jeffrey Epstein is, that that actually could backfire and not serve the president?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, look, I also defended O.J. Simpson and Claus von Bulow and Michael Milken and Mike Tyson.

And you go back in time, I have defended some of the most controversial people in American history. That's what lawyers do. That's what Clarence Darrow did. That's what John Adams did when he defended the Boston Massacre people.

KEILAR: Sure, they do.

But in the case of Jeffrey -- Alan, in the case of Jeffrey Epstein and in those other ones that you state, the victim or alleged victim, all women.

[09:15:07]

You have a number of senators, including female senators, and a lot of their constituents who are female, who may look at that, and they may not like that association.

Do you think it will backfire?

DERSHOWITZ: They understand that -- no, they understand that it's pure McCarthyism to hold a lawyer responsible for having represented controversial clients under the Sixth Amendment.

It's what lawyers do. It's what lawyers should do. I'm very proud of my role as a defense lawyer. I did nothing wrong in any of those cases.

And I will proceed to make my argument in this case without concern for what people think about who I represented in the past. That's who I am. That's who I have always been.

And that's who I will continue to be, as long as the good lord gives me strength to defend people who you don't like and I don't like sometimes.

KEILAR: Alan, thank you so much.

Jeffrey, thank you so much to both of you for this very important conversation. We will see how this all unfolds next week.

And next up, one of the jurors in the president's trial, Democratic Sherrod Brown, will join me.

And he's a former Army Ranger who did not want Nancy Pelosi to be House speaker, but now he's one of the Democrats she chose to make the case against President Trump.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:20:06]

KEILAR: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Brianna Keilar.

And in their first legal brief filed last night, the House impeachment managers make the case for calling new witnesses in the Senate trial, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

The full Senate is expected to vote this week on whether to agree to call witnesses now or defer a decision until later in the trial.

Joining me now is a juror in the Senate trial, Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown.

Senator, thank you for joining us this Sunday. SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): Good to be with you, Brianna. Thank you

for having me.

KEILAR: You and Democrats, you want witnesses. You want witnesses in the Senate trial now. And Republicans are unanimous, even if they don't want witnesses, that, if there are witnesses, they would come later.

Would you vote against any rules package that doesn't include calling witnesses now?

BROWN: Yes, I don't know -- I don't know how you justify not calling witnesses and not introducing new information, if it's -- if it's related to this trial that has an impact on it.

I'm not a lawyer. And -- but I and the whole country overwhelmingly understands you have -- the prosecutor is the House managers. The defense is the president's lawyers, including some of the people you have interviewed.

And then you have -- for a real trial, you have witnesses, and you have new evidence or -- and everybody understands that it's a sham trial without it. And I don't know how they make the case.

And I hear the president over and over saying that the House was unfair, that it's all hearsay. Well, then bring in the people who were in the room. If the president's innocent, then they will exonerate him, and we will all vote not to convict.

But bring the people, bring the eyewitnesses that were in the room when the infraction -- I mean, it's clear the president was undermining democracy, what he did. There's little doubt in people's minds.

But before I know how I'm going to vote, I want to hear the president's side. But I also want to hear witnesses and see the new evidence.

KEILAR: So you will vote against something that does not include a chance to see witnesses straight away?

You just heard Alan Dershowitz. He is a lawyer. And, obviously, he's key in this defense team. He said that, if there are witnesses, even later, on the part of Democrats -- you want to hear, for instance, from John Bolton -- there will then be witnesses, he would expect, called by Republicans.

They can easily call Hunter Biden. Are you prepared for that?

BROWN: Fine.

I think you bring in -- we're taking -- we take the position that we want to hear from witnesses. I don't know what Hunter Biden has to do with the phone call that was made...

KEILAR: But you're fine hearing from him? BROWN: ... or the -- I'm fine with hearing -- I mean, I understand I -- I'm not a lawyer. I understand both sides get to call witnesses.

I'm not sure that a lot of Republicans think -- I mean, I think many Republicans think that's a distraction. That's what Republican senators tell me quietly.

Republican senators also quietly tell me this president is a bigot and tell me this president lies a lot. They don't say that publicly. But I guess that's beside the point for this trial.

But the facts are, we -- the point is, we need witnesses. We need to know who they are, and with the right to call witnesses, additional witnesses, later.

But I don't understand how you can, to the American public, make the case that this is a real trial if there are no witnesses and there is no new evidence.

Just look at the GAO report last week that Senator Van Hollen asked for.

KEILAR: Let -- but I want to ask -- I want to ask you about Lev Parnas, one of the indicted...

BROWN: Sure.

KEILAR: ... associates of Rudy Giuliani.

Do you want him to testify?

BROWN: I'm not -- I assume we want him to testify.

I know we want Bolton. I know we want people who were in the room. I don't have strong feelings yet, until I hear from the House managers and what they want to see.

But I assume, why not have witnesses that have a lot of information about this? So I think Parnas makes sense.

I find it interesting that all of these are Trump friends, all of them, many of them, appointed by Trump. And he does -- the president doesn't want these people to testify? And they were in the room.

And Parnas is also an ally. And Parnas obviously...

KEILAR: Well, Republicans -- Republicans would -- he's got a lot of documents, some of which seem like they would very much benefit Democrats.

But some Republicans, even -- Alan Dershowitz has basically said, have Lev Parnas on. This is someone who's a very complicated witness, is a way that you could understand it. And this is someone who could actually backfire on Democrats.

But what would you want to know from him? BROWN: Well, I don't think the right -- the right analysis is, does

it backfire?

The analysis should be, who's going to bring new information to the trial? Who's going to shed light in the dark corners of what happened? Who was in the room? Who had firsthand information?

If it backfires, and it shows the president is innocent, then that's what happens in trials. We -- I go into this -- unlike McConnell and Graham, I go in -- Lindsey Graham and Leader McConnell -- I don't go in with a preconceived notion.

[09:25:05]

I thought the president should have been impeached, because, clearly, he tried to -- he offered a bribe. He tried to bribe a foreign official for his own campaign.

But before I decide how I vote next week or the following week or next month or whenever it is, I owe it to taking that oath to listen to the evidence, listen to the president's response, and listen to witnesses.

So, no matter what the witnesses say, we still ought to have them. I don't know what Bolton is going to say. I don't know what Parnas would say. I don't know what others in the room would say.

But they will shine light on a process. And, again, I'm not a lawyer.

KEILAR: Sure.

BROWN: How do you -- I don't understand why you wouldn't want more information and more illumination of this very, very, very important trial.

KEILAR: It is very important.

I want to turn now to the presidential campaign. Senator Warren says Senator Sanders told her during a 2018 meeting -- you're familiar with this -- that a woman couldn't win the election.

Sanders denies that, but take a listen to this tense exchange after the CNN debate on Tuesday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What?

WARREN: I think you called me a liar on national TV?

SANDERS: No.

Let's not do it right now. You want to have that discussion, we will have that discussion. You called me a liar. You told me -- all right, let's not do it now.

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't get in the middle of it.

I just want to say, hi, Bernie.

SANDERS: Yes, good. OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: All right, so you have served closely for years with both of these senators. What do you make of this?

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN: I stand with Tom Steyer in just wanting to say hi.

I don't -- I don't know whose -- I think they both heard what they heard. I don't believe for a moment I don't think Bernie thinks that a woman can't win.

I think that, under the pressures of a presidential race, that tempers sometimes flare. I like them both. I have known Bernie since we served in the House together. We came to the Senate on the same day in 2007.

I have worked with Elizabeth when she was working with the Banking Committee as a citizen to try to get the Consumer Bureau. I think we're going to beat Trump, in large part because we're going to make the contrast that we're for working families, and Trump has betrayed workers over and over and over again.

And I'm confident of that.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: I'm sorry to interrupt you, but you say, we're going to win.

Even if it's a woman? You think a woman can win?

BROWN: Oh, yes, absolutely a woman can win, no question.

I think we -- I think the Democrats will nominate somebody. I don't know who it's going to be, if it's going to be a man or a woman. I think there will be a woman on the ticket, for sure, either president or vice president.

And I am confident that, when we make that contrast between Democrats, the party of workers, and Republicans and Trump, the party that has betrayed workers on overtime and minimum wage and trade agreements and in organizing unions and all that, the election will be clear, including in my state.

Trump won my state by 8.5. I want it by 7.5. We will keep those anti- Trump voters and people supporting the Democratic nominee in 2020.

KEILAR: Sherrod Brown, thank you so much for joining us. BROWN: Thanks.

KEILAR: President Trump's legal team.

BROWN: Thanks very much.

KEILAR: Of course.

President Trump's legal team is revealing their strategy to defend the president.

One of the impeachment managers arguing for his removal will respond next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:32:38]

KEILAR: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Brianna Keilar.

As House Democrats work through the weekend to prepare for the Senate trial perhaps the most unexpected impeachment manager is Congressman Jason Crow. He's a former army ranger and attorney who flipped the Republican seat to win in Colorado and he went from not supporting Nancy Pelosi bid for House speaker to becoming one of her choices to prosecutors the case against President Trump. Joining me is Colorado Congressman Jason Crow.

Congressman, thank you so much for being here.

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO), HOUSE IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Good morning. Good to be on.

KEILAR: So just last night you saw this, the Trump legal team put out a scathing six-page response to your impeachment trial memo calling impeachment -- quote -- "brazen and unlawful." Quote -- "highly partisan and reckless" and it says that President Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation. And it says that neither article of impeachment even constitute an impeach -- an impeachable offense at all. What's your response to that?

CROW: Well, my response is this fits the president's pattern. He continues to deflect off of his own behavior, trying to attack the messenger. My immediate response is let's call the witnesses then. He has said that his call was a perfect call. He has said that he has done nothing wrong, so let's have the people that are in the best position to confirm that, come in and testify before the U.S. Senate.

It is what over 70 percent of the American people are asking for. The president deserves a fair trial. The American people deserve a fair trial so let's have the fair trial.

KEILAR: When you found out you were an impeachment manager, was this a complete surprise to you?

CROW: I was surprised. I hadn't been lobbying for this, was called in to speak with the leadership and I was surprised to asked. That was -- humbled to be asked to represent my colleagues in the House of Representatives and the country during this really important trial.

KEILAR: And as I just mentioned in 2019, you did not support Speaker Pelosi as she sought the speakership. I wonder now in retrospect now you are one of these key Democrats in impeachment do you feel differently about the judgment that she has displayed through this process?

CROW: I have always had a fantastic relationship with Speaker Pelosi, and she has done a really great job over the past year navigating the House through a very difficult, very challenging time. She has led in a very thoughtful way.

And I think what the selection of these managers show is that politics doesn't play a part. The speaker has wanted to put a team together that represents the diversity of this country, the diversity of the caucus who can bring the case, make the case regarding national security, abuse of power and all of the things that the president did and make the case in a good way.

[09:35:15]

KEILAR: You want witnesses. Do you want Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani who has provided a bunch of documents some of which are incredibly helpful for Democrats, but he is maybe somebody with a credibility issue to say the least?

CROW: Well, I'm not going to get into any one particular witness. I can say the managers are meeting and talking regularly with our team considering who are the best witnesses to bring that case. We have to look at the entire universe of the potential witnesses.

KEILAR: But is it on the table? Because Sherrod Brown just said that he assumes that would be someone Democrats want to hear from.

CROW: Yes. All of the relevant witnesses are on the table. What we have to do is make sure that we have documents too. This cannot be the first trial in American history, the first impeachment trial in American history where we don't have documents and witnesses produced by the president.

KEILAR: Could you use documents from Lev Parnas without hearing testimony from Lev Parnas?

CROW: That is a possibility. I mean, what we have to do is we have to assess all of the time both the documents and the witnesses, and in the many instances like any trial, documents are a great way to assess credibility.

KEILAR: But if you include documents and not the testimony then people will say it is because you don't think that the witness is credible.

CROW: Well, all of this is based on the Senate allowing witnesses. We can talk about the hypotheticals all day long, about which witnesses to call, when to call them, whether or not to they have witnesses or documents or documents that corroborate the witness, and all of the hypotheticals, but all of it is going back to the Senate allowing witnesses and a Senate allowing documents. That is the Senate's decision, because the jurors in this case, the senators are both the trier of fact, but they also establish the rules. So it is time for them to establish fair rules.

KEILAR: Do you think that President Trump committed bribery?

CROW: I think that the president did a lot of things that abused his power.

KEILAR: But bribery, specifically?

CROW: Yes. Specifically, you know, he did attempt to bribe and coerce a foreign government official. In this case the president of Ukraine --

KEILAR: And why -- why isn't that an article?

CROW: We have to look at the entire context of what happened here. That is what this is about. It is about the abuse of power. It's about jeopardizing our national security, our troops. It is about undermining our free and fair elections. The broad context of the pattern of this president is what is really important and that is why we proceeded with the impeachment.

KEILAR: You could have had bribery as an article and then abuse of power as an article, and for instance Alan Dershowitz is going to argue on the Senate floor as he basically just stated that bribery is in the constitution when it comes to impeachment, he will argue for we'll certainly feel that you -- Democrats, would have had a much better case to actually say bribery if you thought it was bribery.

You all said bribery, there -- have been talking points where Democrats are saying this is bribery, and yet it was not an article of impeachment. What that a mistake considering what Alan Dershowitz is going to argue?

CROW: No. Absolutely not. Let's broaden back out here and talk about what is really going on here. The president's team is trying to say that the president can't be indicted, because it is DOJ policy that a standing president or sitting president can't be indicted. At the same time they are also making arguments that the House of Representatives and Congress cannot subpoena documents or witnesses, and that we can't bring an impeachment case, that it has to be a crime. That high crimes and misdemeanors do not include abuse of power and abuse of the public trust.

So if all of the president's arguments are true that a president cannot be indicted, that the abuse of power and abuse of the public trust does not constitute impeachable offense. If that is true, then no president can be held accountable, that the president truly is above the law. So those arguments can't possibly be true. They can't stand because then our entire system of checks and balances would not hold. KEILAR: Congressman Jason Crow, thank you so much for joining us this Sunday.

CROW: Thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Have a good one.

And Republican Senators have been finding all sorts of creative ways of avoiding questions about the president's trial but that ends Tuesday.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:43:35]

KEILAR: Welcome back.

President Trump's legal team filed their first official answers to the articles of impeachment last night. This is a six-page document that calls the articles of impeachment -- quote -- "constitutionally invalid" and said that -- quote -- "This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election now just months away.

Let's bring in our experts to discuss this. Karen Finney, what is your reaction to that statement? To this six pages.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Nice try. But I think it is very clear to most of us that the evidence is there in terms of these articles of impeachment, that the president abused his power, and I would expect nothing less than for him -- I'm actually surprised the language wasn't a bit more flowery coming from President Trump.

KEILAR: You disagree with Karen obviously, Congressman Waltz.

REP. MICHAEL WALTZ (R-FL): Well, slightly. Yes. But, look, at the end of the day I think it raises some great points that we need to take a close look at.

We cannot have a situation where we -- where the legislative branch can demand pretty much anything it wants from the executive, any of the president's closest advisers particularly when it has to do with foreign policy and if he does not provide those and we don't go to the courts to decide what executive privilege as we have done since George Washington's then therefore he can be impeached.

The bar should be so incredibly high, and right now, we are lowering it. This comes across as partisan. I think the entire process is coming across as partisan particularly with the gold-plated Pelosi celebration pin, the souvenir pins.

[09:45:05]

I think that sends exactly the wrong message in terms of the gravity. And I have to tell you going home to Florida, I don't get asked about this at all. I get asked about potholes that people hit on the way to the town hall. I get asked about prescription drugs. I get asked about all kinds of other things, transportation and infrastructure, not about this.

I think -- I think inside this bubble we are following every twist and turn, but out there in America they're just not following this anymore. It is too much noise and been going on too long and, I think, there is going to be a price to pay at the ballot box.

FINNEY: Out there in America -- a majority of Americans 7 in 10 actually believe that we need a fair trial. They want to hear the evidence. They don't understand why the president would stop the truth from coming forward --

WALTZ: Well, I think they don't understand --

FINNEY: If you are defending not letting the truth come forward then let's talk about that.

WALTZ: No, I think what they don't understand is how this has been muddled. There's no clear crime. It looks so partisan and as Pelosi herself -- Pelosi herself said it should be compelling. It should be bi-partisan and it should be very clear before we get down this road and it's nothing.

FINNEY: But unfortunately Republicans aren't willing to do their job and defend the constitution. They're more loyal to their --

KEILAR: The major fight right here has to do with impeachment, has to do with the witnesses in the Senate trial. Republicans are not going to be particularly keen to answer this question, and let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want witnesses?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want a fair trial.

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: We will have a very hefty discussion about witnesses, but that will be later on, and we'll have to decide at that time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think we're going to see witnesses or no?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): I think that on Tuesday, we will begin the process of going through the resolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Mary Katharine Ham, it is a pretty simple question why does no one want to answer it?

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Because, I think, their argument which has some merit is why didn't the House subpoena the witnesses that they wanted. They did not bother even to subpoena Bolton. I think that was their job. I think it could have gotten -- have been adjudicated through the courts. They did not want it done that way, because they wanted the timing to be faster and then Pelosi sat it on several weeks which I still don't understand wisdom that tactic --

WALTZ: And she also we don't have time for the courts.

HAM: Exactly --

WALTZ: We don't have time. This is so urgent we don't have time.

HAM: Those explicit arguments as far as bringing this as an impeachable event, I think it does not have to be a crime. The House can make a calculation on that. I think it is wiser to be a crime lest you bring down the bar too low and that is why you are seeing pretty stagnant in the polls when it is coming to removal.

KEILAR: Governor McAuliffe?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think as Karen said most Americans would like to see witnesses, would like to see documents. There has been new evidence that has come out since the House took their action, and I think in the sense of fairness they want to see witnesses up there. I think the Republicans have got to be very careful as we go into this impeachment that if they say well sort of like old Sergeant Schultz, you know, I see nothing that they're going to sweep everything under the rug, people want to see their elected officials with a sense of independence, and you look at the Arizona senate race or Colorado Senate race if it looks like there's no independence, and just following the line here and protecting President Trump under any circumstances, they will pay a price at the polling booths this coming November, so I think they have to be very careful.

I think people should say we ought to have witnesses, let's do this --

KEILAR: But if they say we'll have them later doesn't that allow them to preserve that sense the voters --

MCAULIFFE: They (ph) may (ph) get it through the first hurdle, and I hope ultimately common sense would dictate that -- let's have some witnesses coming in. If Donald Trump and all of his associates continually say, I did nothing wrong, then bring in the witnesses who will testify to the fact, Mulvaney and Bolton who will testify if you have done nothing wrong and you are saying this, then let your witnesses come in to say, yes, he didn't do anything wrong. Why won't they let the witnesses come in?

HAM: The issue for Democrats is that -- and the rules were set up like this from the beginning, that they control the House but they do not control the Senate, and therefore if you want something out of this Senate trial, you have to give something. So that is why you have this discussion about these witnesses that the Republicans might like to see, because the leverage is the situation.

KEILAR: And we may see them. And we have more ahead. Iowa voters are getting ready to weigh in. So how much could the next two weeks affect who they vote for? Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:52:24]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What?

WARREN: I think you called me a liar on national TV.

SANDERS: Let's not do it right now. You want to have that discussion. We'll have that discussion.

WARREN: Anytime.

SANDERS: You called me liar -- you told me -- all right, let's not do it now.

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want to get in the middle. I want to say hi, Bernie.

SANDERS: Yes. Good. OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Tom Steyer speaking for a lot of Democrats there. Sanders said this week that he and Senator Warren have not spoken since their hot exchange. Let's talk about this.

OK. So this hasn't happened, right? But I just wonder even as this feud has simmered, Governor McAuliffe, is this bad for Democrats? What strikes you about this exchange?

MCAULIFFE: I've said this of the debate on CNN I think Elizabeth Warren had a real opportunity to go back. She should have answered the question when Bernie talked in the debate. I think it would have been a transformation moment for her. To say, no, here is what you said to me. But she didn't do it. She waited until after.

But I think now were past it with two weeks to go until -- two weeks from tomorrow, I don't think anybody cares right now. Let's talk about healthcare and prescription drug prices. We're two weeks to show time. And these senators are in a real difficult position because have a caucus coming up. The last two weeks they are not there this is when you do your get out the boat, mobilize your voters. If I am Biden or Buttigieg, I am doing 50 events a day for the next two weeks.

FINNEY: But, you know, Governor Terry, as I like to call you --

MCAULIFFE: Yes.

FINNEY: I disagree. Because for a lot of women, you think that Senator Sanders and his campaign very much underestimate how much anger there still is on the part of a lot of women who -- whether it was the Bernie bros who attack them and Senator Sanders did nothing to try -- I mean, literally people are being threatened. It was vicious in 2016.

MCAULIFFE: You are saying they are still angry the next two weeks going forward.

FINNEY: I'm saying that what -- I think his campaign is an understanding is -- what's bad for him about this is this -- he came into this race a lot of baggage from 2016 about the way women were treated by the Bernie bros, by his campaign. I've spoke to women who worked in his campaign in 2016, it was not a welcoming environment for a lot of women. And so to then have that kind of exchange with Senator Warren who a lot of us -- respect even if you're not going to vote for her you respect her. That doesn't look good for him --

MCAULIFFE: She should have called them out that night.

FINNEY: Well, I think --

MCAULIFFE: On camera in front of millions of people.

KEILAR: What do you think?

HAM: Look, I was like, I don't -- I don't think about this. I have a -- I mean let's put -- I'm eating popcorn. But I'm willing to believe a lot of unsavory things about Senator Sanders. I actually don't -- it does not ring true to me that he believes a woman can't win the presidency. I don't think he has changed his mind about that. Your point is well taken about how some of his supporters have treated women in the past.

[09:55:03]

I do think there's probably anger about that. There is two people in the room, I don't want to act naive about like where the story may have come from, probably not from the side that looks very bad during this exchange. And he should have just said, well, you called me a sexist on national T.V. We don't actually know.

But like we also do know that Senator Warren has stressed the truth on several major stories including her heritage, the wine cave most recently, her employment in the past. That should be part of the calculation here and the fact that this story seems to wildly benefit her and give her this moment in the spotlight to make the speech that she makes.

KEILAR: We can't actually know what was said. But there is a possibility that as this -- it is really amazing that these senators are going to come back, come off the trail and then Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg have this tremendous opportunity to be there in Iowa. I wonder what you think about how the president views this, Congressman, because it seems like he's been more worried about Joe Biden as the biggest threat against him and yet here Joe Biden is with an advantage because of President Trump's impeachment. WALTZ: Right. Right. Well -- and there's a lot of people who believe and are saying now that one of the mystery reasons that Pelosi may have delayed saying -- sending them over was to -- sending the impeachment articles over was to tie down some of the senators, which some are saying --

KEILAR: You really think that?

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Do you really think that?

WALTZ: However, I just want to say --

KEILAR: Do you -- do -- OK. No, no, no. Don't -- some people are saying that.

WALTZ: I have no idea what she did -- I have no idea what she did --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Do you think -- but you repeated it so what -- do you think that is really a possibility?

WALTZ: Here is what I do believe, whether it's this that the media is obsessed with, seems to be or impeachment. What I hear over and over again it's a bunch of politicians fighting, not affecting my life from voters, not doing anything for me. And what they are excited about is Dow approaching 30,000, two historic trade deals. We just averted a major escalation with Iran. We can go down the list of things that we are getting done. So from the president's perspective, he's putting points on the board. He's getting things done and he's going to continue to get things done while -- meanwhile, we have these fights going on that are going to really play out over the next few days.

KEILAR: Thank you --

MCAULIFFE: And Nancy Pelosi did not do this to help Joe Biden. Biden has been leading in the polls versus (ph) Trump --

WALTZ: Why did she though?

(CROSSTALK)

MCAULIFFE: -- Florida, Ohio --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Gentlemen, this has been -- this has been a tremendous conversation. I am glad it ended this way as well. Thank you all of you so much.

"FAREED ZAKARIA" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)