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AT THIS HOUR

Democratic Candidates Campaign in South Carolina; Rift Between Biden & Sanders over Social Security; Sanders & Warren Want Conversation about Woman Winning White House to Go Away; Massive Gun Rights Rally in Richmond; Dershowitz Distances Himself from Trump Legal Strategy; Adam Schiff Accuses Intelligence Community of Withholding Documents on Ukraine from Congress. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired January 20, 2020 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00]

JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, a week ago, they were going back and forth with each other about that private conversation that they had. But today, the show of unity here in Columbia, South Carolina.

And when it comes to South Carolina, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead here. He has just very solid support from black voters in South Carolina, notably older black voters here in South Carolina.

He was at an oyster roast with some of those voters last night in Orangeburg, talking to them. And he also spoke with "The State," the Columbia newspaper.

Take a listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just asked a rhetorical question, Bernie is the top of the ticket in South Carolina or Warren is the top of the ticket, how many times Democrats down the line do you think are going to win.

I think the candidate has to be someone who is going to help the ticket down the line, be able to run away with and not run away from.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DEAN: And, Kate, interestingly, we're hearing more of that line of talking from Joe Biden on the stump, both in Iowa and here, as he kind of tries to close his case and really persuade people that message that if you want to get things done, you're going to need majorities in the Senate and the House.

And he's trying to tell them that he is the person that can do that, that can carry the down ballot ticket with him as well.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's very interesting, Jessica. So, Ryan, I want to get to Warren and Sanders in a second. But the

latest rift, this one between Biden and Sanders and over Social Security this time. What happened this weekend, can you explain to folks, that has Biden crying foul?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: For a long time, the Sanders campaign has wanted to have this conversation with Joe Biden about his record on Social Security and, for whatever reason, the Biden campaign didn't respond. Allowed Sanders to say what he wanted to say and didn't respond.

But this time around, the Sanders campaign put out a video and put out video of Joe Biden talking about Paul Ryan and he was doing so in a mocking way but talking about his embrace of cutting Social Security. Biden called the video doctored. It wasn't doctored, but it was taken out of context. He was taking on Paul Ryan.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

NOBLES: He wasn't necessarily embracing --

(CROSSTALK)

NOBLES: But there's a bigger conversation here about this fight over Social Security and it is something that the Sanders campaign wanted to have. They believe Biden has an inconsistent record on this, that he has talked about changes to Social Security that could include cuts to the program.

Now, Biden said this time around, as a 2020 candidate, he wants to grow the program, that he's in favor of keeping it in the form and fashion that it is now.

But they believe that consistency is the most important hallmark of the Sanders record. And when you look at Sanders' record when it comes to Social Security, going all the way back to when he first got into politics, it always has been about preserving and maintaining the program at its current status.

BOLDUAN: They're fighting about that. And it is an important topic to be talking about.

But there's also the going on between Sanders and Warren, the back and forth over the private conversation in 2018 that spilled over to the CNN debate stage last week, if a woman can win the White House. They looked friendly-ish in South Carolina this morning. But are they moving past this?

NOBLES: I think they would like the conversation about the private conversation to go away. I don't think they want to go through that chapter and verse anymore.

I think it is impossible for them, Kate, to ignore the overarching issue of gender in this race. And also a desire from a certain amount of Democratic voters, women in particular, to see a woman win the White House and win this nomination. And I think Bernie Sanders understands that. In fact, listen to what

he said in an interview recently about this issue of gender and the role it plays in this Democratic primary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think gender is still an obstacle for female politicians?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): The answer is yes. But I think everybody has their own sets of problems. I'm 78 years of age. That's a problem. There are a lot of people who say, well, I like Bernie, nice guy, but he's 78 years of age.

If you're looking at Buttigieg, he's a young guy. People will say, well, he's too young to be president. You look at this one, she's a woman.

So everybody brings some negatives if you like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: So I think the point here, Kate, he doesn't want it to be about the issues that aren't specific to the issues at hand. He wants it to be about Social Security, he wants it to be about Medicare For All, eliminating college debt. He believes, on that playing field, that's where he has the strongest hand to be dealt --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Sure, then the primary narrative happens.

NOBLES: Right, exactly. Right. He would rather it not be about the identity issues. But it is an inescapable issue you have to contend with.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Ryan.

NOBLES: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Jessica, thanks so much. Good to see you.

[11:34:44]

Coming up for us, a massive gun rights rally is under way in Virginia now and a massive police presence as well. We're on the ground. What is this all about and why is Richmond a city on edge?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Right now, thousands of gun owners and gun rights activists are rallying on the steps of Virginia state capital, protesting against new gun measures in the state. This has been really playing out all morning. Demonstrators lining the streets.

And security an all-time high as law enforcement spent the weekend looking into threats of violence, which, of course, conjure up fear and sad memories of the deadly violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia, during protests in 2017.

[11:40:13]

Let's go there. What is happening there this morning? CNN's Sara Sidner is standing by. She's been among the demonstrators all morning.

Sara, what have you been seeing and hearing today?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, those threats which caused the governor to call for a state of emergency have simply not emerged. The police very clear in saying they have not had a single arrest during this rally. And we have been standing here all morning, since the very beginning.

There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of people here. I want to give you a view. We're standing right outside of the area where you go into the capital there. And what you'll see are just throngs of people lining not just this street, but all the streets around the capital.

There are folks that are there to lobby their legislatures. This is Lobby Day, where they're trying to tell them how upset they are with some of the gun restrictive laws that he had are looking to pass. There are some that several are upset with and people here want their voices heard.

But there are people here from all over the country, not Virginians.

We talked to someone who is from Virginia, who is here in Richmond and standing for what he says is his right to bear arms.

Let's listen to what Manny Vega had to say. We talked to him earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANNY VEGA, GUN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We're here to represent every citizen here that wants to keep the right to bear arms. This government here in Richmond has usurped the Constitution of the United States and the Virginia constitution that guarantees us those rights. And we're here protesting for that -- for the right to bear arms. All we want to do is be able to defend ourselves.

SEAN RESTATTER, GUN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: There may be far left and far right groups out here today, but the vast majority of the message is guns save lives and we believe in the second amendment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: So far, there haven't been any far-left groups we have seen here. This is really a group of folks who do not want their gun rights to be limited.

And so right now, completely peaceful. You're hearing some of the speakers speak. This is supposed to wrap up at 2:00. Again, no incidents so far, guys.

BOLDUAN: That's good to hear.

Sara, thank you for being on the ground. I really appreciate it.

Coming up, the president's legal team now set as the impeachment trial begins tomorrow. Why then is one of his defense attorneys seeming to distance himself from the Trump legal strategy before they even begin? More on that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:47:09]

BOLDUAN: One member of President Trump's legal team, Alan Dershowitz, is well known in legal circles and well known for his TV appearances, of course. He's also well known for not shying away from a fight.

Why then does it seem the former Harvard law professor and constitutional professor is doing that when it comes to his role in Trump's defense, distancing himself multiple times Sunday from the full Trump legal defense strategy?

Listen to what he said about this over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, COUNSEL, TRUMP'S LEGAL DEFENSE TEAM: I'm not involved in the day to day issues.

I will be making that argument as a lawyer on behalf of the president's defense team against impeachment. That's my role.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: The brief filed by the president's attorneys last night asserts several times the president did nothing wrong with Ukraine. Do you agree with that?

DERSHOWITZ: I didn't sign that brief. I didn't even see the brief until after it was filed. That's not part of my mandate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president's brief filed last night says very clearly the president did nothing wrong and you're saying you're not willing to endorse that statement?

DERSHOWITZ: I did not read that brief or sign that brief. That's not part of my mandate. My mandate is to present the constitutional argument.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: So what is that? Can an attorney defending the president in one of the most historic trials in presidential history be partly on board with the president's defense strategy, if that's what Dershowitz is saying?

Joining me now, Guy Smith. He served as a special adviser to President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial. And Evan Mandery. He's a professor at John J. College of Criminal Justice.

Thank you, guys, for being here.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: So, Guy, what do you think of what -- what do you think Dershowitz is doing here?

GUY SMITH, FORMER CLINTON SPECIAL ADVISER DURING IMPEACHMENT: He's selling books.

BOLDUAN: Can you be on board with part -- can you be partly on board with the president's strategy? Do you accept that he effectively was just dodging the question if he was on board with --

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: He was completely dodging the question. And back in the Clinton era, he said you got to have a crime, and here today, saying, oh, well, there's no crime.

And the intellectual dishonesty going on -- think about this, the Trump people, Bill Barr, the attorney general, oh, you can't indict a sitting president for a crime. And now the argument is going to come out here again in 30 minutes is, well there's no crime. Well, what's the deal here?

And this is the kind of gas lighting that is going to go on. Not going to be any substance, it is all noise for TV. That's why you got Starr, Dershowitz, Ray, Bondi. They spent more than 350 hours on FOX News in the last year. It is not about the Constitution. It is about noise to them.

BOLDUAN: I'm cool with people spending time on TV, as someone who spends a lot of time on TV. This comes down what the what the legal arguments are before the Senate.

As he mentioned, some of the other folks on the -- on Trump's legal team, there's another interesting wrinkle that you highlight in terms of Trump's legal team is the long history and no love lost between Dershowitz and Ken Starr here.

[11:50:06]

EVAN MANDERY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, JOHN J. COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, Alan's criticism of Ken Starr was in the context of the Clinton impeachment. I'm a little more sympathetic to Alan's overall project and guidelines. I think Alan is a very serious civil libertarian.

I think the difference here is he perceived, he's approaching this as if it's a civil libertarian issue, as if the indictment, the impeachment articles against Trump need to be narrowly constructed.

In a criminal trial that would make sense. It's just not a criminal trial. So there's no rights being infringed here. So it's different. But his impulses are. I differ from a lot of people. I think he thinks he's coming from an intellectually consistent place.

BOLDUAN: Let me play the moment we're talking about here. I played it at the top of the show, but I think it bears repeating, which is this argument amongst -- and it's not just from Alan Dershowitz. I heard Robert Ray make the argument this morning that there was no technical crime so there's no technical reason, need to impeach. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERSHOWITZ: Without a crime, there can be no impeachment.

There certainly doesn't have to be a crime. If you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of the president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty, you don't need a technical crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Can you agree with both of those statements, Guy?

SMITH: Not if you're intellectually honest, no. He's not being consistent. And the reason is because they're all part of the Donald Trump cult.

And what they're trying to do is shore up the Republican Senators. Think about the FOX News echo chamber, right? There's no crime because there has to be a crime. If you're in an auto body shop in Oklahoma City, you don't study all the details of this. You --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: That is what Ross Garber actually argued at the top of the show. He's been involved in many an impeachment. And he said it almost doesn't matter what the argument is, then, to the Senators in the room. This is an argument when it comes to swaying the American public.

But when it comes to Dershowitz, you did a profile for "Politico" magazine in 2018. In it there's one quote when he told you, "I tried to be consistent with my principles." That is, of course, absolutely something to be applauded.

Is that what's happening here?

MANDERY: The clip you played, he said it in connection with Nixon, right? He said Nixon was properly impeached. And he said many times that he doesn't think it has to technically be a crime.

On the substance of the argument, there's no serious argument that you have satisfy the statutory definition of a crime to be impeached.

I wish, I hope you have him on, and I hope you'll give him a chance to explain it. I do agree that, on that point, he's being intellectually

inconsistent. But I will say I don't think he's doing it for money. I think he perceives it to be part of a project that's very important to him.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating.

Great to have you guys on. And we will see what the brief in full is, the full legal argument, and what it includes when the president's legal team will be filing it in a matter of moments.

Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it.

MANDERY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:57:51]

BOLDUAN: On the eve of the Senate impeachment trial, lead House impeachment manager, Adam Schiff, is now leveling a very serious accusation, that the U.S. Intelligence Community is withholding from Congress important and relevant documents pertaining to Ukraine.

Listen to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The Intelligence Committee is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine. They appear to be succumbing to pressure from the administration. The NSA in particular is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine. But also withholding documents relevant to what the Senators might want to see during the trial.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's Alex Marquardt is following this.

Alex, what are you hearing about this?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, this is a rare accusation toward the Intelligence Community from Adam Schiff. This is normally the kind of thing he levels at the White House.

In fact, now we're about to see the president tried for obstruction of Congress for withholding documents.

And what Adam Schiff is now saying is that essentially at the behest of the administration, you now have some major parts, some of the major agencies within the Intelligence Committee, either withholding or starting to withhold what he says are crucial documents both for their role in the House Intelligence Committee in terms of oversight, but also for the impeachment trial of the president.

Now, he singled out two in particular, the National Security Agency, which, as you know, Kate, is in charge of signals intelligence, code breaking cybersecurity, that type of thing. He said they are withholding. And he named the CIA, saying they are on track for doing the same.

We have reached out to both the CIA and NSA. They have not responded.

But we do have a quick statement from the office of director of National Intelligence responding to Adam Schiff's accusation.

They say, "The Intelligence Community is committed to providing Congress with the information and intelligence it needs to carry out its critical oversight role. The I.C. is working in good faith with the House Intelligence Committee to respond to requests on a broad range of topics and will continue to do so" -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: But still, the accusation sitting out there from Adam Schiff just as they're about to head over to the Senate to begin the impeachment trial.

[11:29:02]

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it, Alex.

Much more to follow up on that.

Thank you all so much, though, for joining me today.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.