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Trump Impeachment Trial Begins; GOP Pushes for Fast Trial; Washington Post: Trump Team Trying to Keep Bolton from Spotlight. Aired 4-4:30a ET
Aired January 21, 2020 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The third presidential impeachment trial in American history begins in a matter of hours.
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SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): It is a cover-up. It is a national disgrace.
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RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Democrats are furious as Senate Republicans push to finish the trial as quickly as possible.
JARRETT: "The Washington Post" says Trump's team is maneuvering to make sure senators never hear publicly from former national security advisor John Bolton.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is EARLY START. I'm Laura Jarrett.
NOBLES: And I'm Ryan Nobles. Thank you for being here this morning. It is Tuesday, January 21st. It is 4:00 a.m. in New York. Just 13 days to the Iowa caucuses.
And Democrats are furious this morning with just hours to go until a debate and a vote on the rules for the President Trump's Senate impeachment trial. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released his rules proposal last night and Democrats are calling it deeply unfair.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says McConnell's resolution I shows he is, quote, going along with Trump's cover-up, hook, line, and sinker.
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SCHUMER: When you look at his resolution, it's no wonder he delayed it until the last minute. He didn't want people to study it or know about it. After reading McConnell's resolution, it's clear McConnell is hell-bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through.
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NOBLES: Senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju has the latest from Capitol Hill.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Laura and Ryan.
Now, just hours before the Senate trial is officially set to begin, Mitch McConnell unveiled resolution detailing the parameters of how the trial would actually take shape. And under the rules that Mitch McConnell put out, put forward, it's going to -- expected to be a pretty fast-moving trial if senators don't agree to subpoena witnesses or documents. If they decide to reject all that, then we could see the president potentially being acquitted by next week.
Now, this is how it essentially will play out under the resolution that McConnell laid out. After the debate on Tuesday, in which the lawmakers will take up the resolution that President -- that Senator McConnell put forward, there will be lots of amendments that Democrats will offer. Those Democrat amendments undoubtedly will be rejected by Republicans, probably all of them will fail. They'll seek to require witnesses and documents coming forward. Republicans will say we'll deal with that later in the trial. Ultimately, the McConnell plan will be adopted sometime late Tuesday.
Then, Wednesday comes the opening arguments. The Democrats will have 24 hours to make their case but they can only use two days of the 24 hours. So that means it could go probably on Thursday and -- Wednesday and Thursday of this week. That's when the opening arguments for the Democrats would happen.
And then afterwards, the White House would -- the president's team would have 24 hours to make their case. So that would happen on, probably, Friday, Saturday, and maybe they might use all that time, they could yield that time back. And then at that point, the senators will question all of the member -- question the two sides for up to 16 hours.
Now, it's possible those questions could extend into Monday. And then if we get into Monday, that's when the question time could be up. And then they will have a vote about whether to bring forward any witnesses, subpoena any witnesses. If that vote fails, which is very possible, then they'll move on to question about whether to admit any new evidence in the case, the evidence being the ones that have -- what has been gathered by the house Democrats in the impeachment inquiry.
This is different than the Clinton case that allowed the House evidence to be automatically admitted to the record. Now, the Senate will have to vote about whether to admit the evidence into the record. No matter what happens there, if there's no witnesses that have been agreed to to come be subpoenaed, no documents that have been agreed to to be subpoenaed, then the president could be acquitted if the Senate moves to acquit him sometime by the middle of next week. And this is exactly what the president wants. He wants to be cleared
by the time of his State of the Union February 4th and it appears increasingly likely that will be the case. But, of course, this is a hugely consequential trial, lots of twists and turns on the way. We'll see if anything surprises along the way.
Back to you.
JARRETT: All right, Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, President Trump's lawyers and his allies in the Senate are working behind the scenes to keep former national security advisor John Bolton from testifying in the impeachment trial. Impeachment witnesses had said Bolton expressed alarm at the president's shadow Ukraine policy, comparing it to a drug deal. According to "The Washington Post," they are gaming out contingency plans in case Democrats win enough Republican votes to force witness testimony. The first step would be a fierce battle in the courts.
If that fails, they will consider moving Bolton's testimony to a classified setting, citing national security concerns.
That would ensure the former national security advisor's testimony does not become public. But it could become with some serious political consequences for the GOP with Democrats asking exactly what they're trying to hide.
NOBLES: Eight House Republicans are being added to the president's legal team, although, their legal role is a little unclear. Doug Collins of Georgia, Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, John Ratcliffe of Texas, Elise Stefanik of New York, and Lee Zeldin of New York.
Now, none of them expected to speak on the Senate floor. Instead, they will serve as outside advisors and TV surrogates. A number of the House members have been meeting regularly with President Trump's lawyers to help them prepare for the floor arguments.
JARRETT: A majority of Americans believe the Senate should remove the president from office. Take a look at this latest CNN poll: 51 percent of voters say the president needs to go before the trial even gets underway, 45 percent do not believe he should be removed. That's an increase of 6 percentage points since December. And when asked if there should be testimony from new witnesses at the president's trial, well, 69 percent said yes. And 26 percent said no.
NOBLES: But as his Senate impeachment trial heats up, President Trump heads to the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He is expected to deliver opening remarks a little over an hour from now.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live in Davos with the latest. Jeremy, we know the president is on the ground there. What can we expect today?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ryan. The president has indeed landed here at Davos. Small town nestled in the Swiss Alps.
And in about an hour and a half, the president is expected to deliver remarks at the World Economic Forum where we expect he will focus on the economy, particularly, the extent to which he believes his policies have led to a booming U.S. economy, and, of course, as well, his trade policies, which of course have been a source of contention, particularly, here at Davos where many of the individuals here are proponents of globalism, of free trade policies that the president has at times balked at.
But of course, over -- overwhelming all of this and hanging over this trip that the president is making here will be, of course, this impeachment trial that is set to begin, in earnest, in the Senate in a matter of hours. This is, of course, not the first time that the president's foreign trips have been overshadowed by domestic, political developments, particularly, developments -- major developments -- in the Mueller investigation, as well as the impeachment proceedings.
Remember, when the president traveled to London for the NATO summit back in December, that was the first day that the House Judiciary Committee held its first formal impeachment hearings. And of course, the president, his mind has been very much on this impeachment proceedings, complaining over the weekend to friends and allies, both publicly and privately, about the impeachment trial that he is now set to face in the Senate.
And -- but aides are kind of hopeful, Ryan, that perhaps the president's busy schedule here at Davos will keep his mind off of the impeachment trial, away from the television screens, and most importantly, away from his Twitter feed. But that, of course, will be a question that remains to be seen.
Of course, the president is likely to take questions, perhaps, from reporters here, particularly, as he meets with several world leaders, including the presidents of Iraq, the president of the Swiss Federation, as well. Those are often opportunities for the president to field some questions from reporters and impeachment will likely be on the top of that agenda -- Ryan.
NOBLES: All right. Jeremy Diamond, we'll hear from the president in about an hour and a half. Jeremy, thank you.
JARRETT: All right. Well, less than two weeks until the Iowa caucuses, President Trump's impeachment trial is already having a big impact on the 2020 race for president. More on that next.
[04:12:53] JARRETT: President Trump's impeachment trial will have an immediate impact on the 2020 Democratic race. Less than two weeks out from the first votes in the Iowa caucuses, four sitting senators will have to leave the trial and return to the Senate to serve as impeachment jurors.
We get more now from CNN's Arlette Saenz in Des Moines.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Ryan and Laura, we're 13 days away from the Iowa caucuses, and these White House contenders are facing a new challenge, running their campaigns against the backdrop of an impeachment trial. Four of the Democratic contenders are turning their attention from the campaign trail to Capitol Hill.
Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Michael Bennet, all preparing to sit as jurors in President Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate. That could take them away from the campaign trail for a good chunk of time in these final weeks before voting begins. So, these senators who are campaigning for president are going to have to find creative ways to stay involved in the 2020 race. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren are planning on deploying their spouses out on the campaign trail to stamp for them while they're back in the Senate.
And for candidates who aren't sitting in that impeachment trial, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, they are going to try to take advantage of this time when they are some of the only people on the grounds here in Iowa. But they also need to find ways to stay relevant as impeachment is going to dominate.
And let's not forget, 60 percent of Iowa Democratic caucus goers either aren't committed to their first-choice candidate or are still undecided, showing just how crucial these final weeks for the Iowa caucuses will be in swing voters' minds -- Ryan and Laura.
NOBLES: Arlette, thank you from Iowa.
Protestors in Puerto Rico calling on Governor Wanda Vasquez Garced to resign.
Puerto Ricans are frustrated with their leadership and they took those frustrations to the governor's mansion on Monday, following the discovery of a warehouse filled with unused disaster-relief supplies, including bedding, food, and medical equipment. The island has been rocked by ongoing earthquakes and is still recovering from Hurricane Maria more than two years later.
JARRETT: At least four people have now died from the Wuhan coronavirus in China. More than 200 people have been sickened by the new strain of the respiratory virus. Chinese health officials confirmed some cases have been spread from person to person. They previously said the virus was primarily passed from animals to humans.
Fears of a major outbreak come as China prepares for the lunar new year holiday this week.
In the U.S., three major airports in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are screening passengers arriving from China to check for signs of the new virus.
And coming up, how a California man -- you have to see this -- armed with only a backpack saved his young son from a mountain lion.
NOBLES: A peaceful end to a rights rally in Virginia's state capital. Authorities in Richmond were bracing for white nationalists and other extremist groups to disrupt the demonstrations. But that never happened.
We get more from CNN's Nick Valencia.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They came by the thousands, flooding the streets of Virginia's capital.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Second Amendment and God.
VALENCIA: Gun rights activists, some heavily armed, carrying semiautomatic weapons and wearing body armor, protesting legislation that would restrict access to firearms in the state.
MANNY VEGA, RICHMOND GUN-OWNER: We're here to represent every citizen here that wants to keep the right to bear arms.
VALENCIA: An event the governor and state law enforcement officials feared would get out of control, instead was peaceful.
REGGIE BOWLES, RICHMOND GUN-OWNER: Wanted to come out here and show 'em that I can come out here, act reasonable.
VALENCIA: But in the days leading up to the rally, Virginia officials worried the worst could happen. A perimeter was set up around Richmond's capitol building. Outside of it, thousands roamed with weapons in hand. Inside of it, no guns allowed after Governor Ralph Northam issued a temporary weapons ban, citing credible threats of violence from extremist and white nationalist groups.
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D-VA): Intelligence throws a threat of armed militia groups storming our capitol.
VALENCIA: Last week, the FBI arrested three alleged members of a radical neo-Nazi group, two accused of having machine guns and planning to attend the rally.
The kind of concern the governor cited in issuing the temporary weapons ban, which the governor's critics say was political theater.
(on camera): You don't believe that there's credible threats?
SEAN RESTATTER, GUN RIGHTS ADVOCATE: I don't think there's credible threats. I think what I see around here are very legitimate gun owners who have legitimate gripes of the government and Ralph Northam is trying to petty flag the issue and portray it to something that it's not.
VALENCIA (voice-over): At the core of the protestors' anger is the belief the governor and the legislature, controlled by the Democrats, are attempting to restrict gun ownership.
CROWD: Northam out! Northam out!
VALENCIA: The state s, last week, passed three gun control measures. As a result, some protestors circulated petitions to recall the governor.
RESTATTER: There might be left, far right and far left groups that might be out here today. But the vast majority of the message is guns save lives and we believe in the Second Amendment.
VALENCIA: Nick Valencia. CNN, Richmond, Virginia.
JARRETT: All right, Nick. Thanks so much for that report.
A New Hampshire father killed a coyote with his bare hands after it attacked his 2-year-old son. Ian O'Reilly says he was hiking on a trail with his family when the coyote grabbed the toddler and dragged him to the ground. O'Reilly was bitten and scratched by the coyote as he struggled to free his son and finally prevailed.
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IAN O'REILLY, KILLED COYOTE: I had its snout here, pushed it into the snow. And then just took my hand and got on its windpipe the best I could. And then I put in its ribs to try and pin it.
Never underestimate the power of survival I suppose. That coyote was very much interested in living. But, you know, so were we.
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JARRETT: Wow. O'Reilly was treated for his wounds and is OK. His son was not injured in the attack, thankfully. Police say the same coyote had earlier attacked a vehicle and went after two dogs, biting their owner.
NOBLES: It seems a little too matter of fact for that. Seems it's a lot more precarious than he made it out to be.
Well, we have more news with fathers fending off wild animals. In California, a 3-year-old boy attacked by a mountain lion. That child also saved by his dad, who threw a backpack at the big cat after he came out of nowhere and grabbed the boy by the neck. The lion dropped him, picked up the backup and raced up the tree. The child suffered injuries to his neck and is listed in stable condition.
California fish and game officials at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park confirm the mountain lion was put down.
JARRETT: President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron agreeing to hold off escalating trade war, avoiding huge new tariffs on French wine, cheese and hand bags for now.
President Trump threatened 100 percent tariff to retaliate for a tax imposed on American tech firms doing business in France, like Google and Facebook. A French official says the leaders agreed to delay tariffs until the end of the year so the two countries can continue negotiating a digital services tax.
NOBLES: Patients at risk for heart problems should be careful about using marijuana. A new report in "The Journal of the American College of Cardiology" says there could be a connection between pot smoking and a range of heart problems. And because people who smoke weed typically hold the smoke in longer, it may deliver more cardio toxic chemicals than cigarettes.
Now, according to the report, about 2 million American adults with cardiovascular disease say they have smoked marijuana despite the drug being a potential risk to heart health.
JARRETT: The coldest air of the season lingering across the eastern half of the country as another system brings ice, snow, and rain to the central and southern U.S.
Let's bring in meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Ryan and Laura.
The cold air and also the wintery weather ahead of us going to be the big stories moving forward. This mornings, temps 10 to about 20 below zero what it feels like across portions of the Midwest.
While in Washington, in New York, in Boston, temperatures feeling like 6, 8, to about, say, 16 degrees when you factor in the winds across the region, and even along the gulf coast. We do have freeze warnings and freeze watches where the middle 40s are in place across portions of, say, Tampa, Florida.
But the trend runs about 10 to 15 degrees below average across this region and to the north. Similar sort of a setup. But really, going to be following this storm system on approach out of areas across the intermountain west. It does happen to some moisture here as we go from Wednesday into Thursday. So, we get quite a bit of rainfall once again along the Gulf Coast and then back towards the north. It is going to be cold enough even though a warming trend is in store
here to tap into some snow showers. So, Chicago, unto Minneapolis, even as far as St. Louis could see some wintry weather. Accumulations generally light around St. Louis, but in Chicago could see as much as six inches, as we go in towards late week -- guys.
NOBLES: All right. Pedram, thank you.
History will be made in just a matter of hours. President Trump's impeachment trial begins with a bitter battle over how the case will be carried out. Our coverage continues, next.