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National Polls on Impeachment; Debate over Impeachment Rules; Sanders Apologizes to Biden. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 21, 2020 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00]

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That we saw from the president where he really hit this issue head-on despite the huge gap that there is between him and the attendees here. But also, of course, most leaders in the developed world.

But, Alisyn, of course, hanging over all of this, over the president's trip here to Davos, is impeachment. The trial set to begin in just a few hours. And the president, despite being several thousand miles away, it's clear that it's very much still on his mind.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Jeremy.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Always on his mind. We see that from Twitter and everything else the president says.

So as Mitch McConnell pushes for a speedy acquittal of President Trump with no witnesses, a brand new poll showing that a plurality of Republicans actually want those witnesses. Intriguing new numbers, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: In just a few hours, President Trump's impeachment trial will begin. And it begins with a fierce debate over the rules.

There's also new, revealing poll numbers. A CNN national poll is just out and it finds that 51 percent of Americans support convicting and removing President Trump from office.

[06:35:02]

That is up from 45 percent in December.

CNN's political director David Chalian joins us now to break down the numbers.

Really revealing, interesting stuff. Give us the headlines, David.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, it's -- you saw in that chart there, Alisyn, it's back to where it was sort of in October and November. Take a look at some of the demographic groups under this number. I think it's really interesting. Take a look at this gender gap here.

Among women, 59 percent think he should be removed from office, convicted or removed. Only 42 percent of men think so. By the racial breakdown here, 86 percent of African-Americans convict and remove, 65 percent of Hispanic Americans in this poll and 42 percent of white Americans.

And there's an age divide also. If you are 45 years old or younger, 56 percent of those folks in this poll say he should be convicted and removed. If you're 45 and older, in this poll, 47 percent of those Americans say President Trump should be convicted an removed from office.

CAMEROTA: OK, the poll also asks about how people feel about hearing from witnesses. What's the answer?

CHALIAN: I think this is the most politically important point in this poll as we go into today. Sixty-nine percent, seven in ten Americans in this poll say, yes, there should be witnesses in this trial, even if they weren't part of the House process, only 26 percent say no. And this is critical. Look at it by party, guys. Take a look at Republicans here, that bottom row, 48 percent of Republicans believe witnesses should be part of the Senate trial, 44 percent say no.

That is a number that you're going to see Chuck Schumer try to use to exact some political pressure on those four Republicans he's going to be searching for to join with the Democrats on some of these votes.

BERMAN: You might hear it in a few minutes right here on NEW DAY when we have the minority leader as a guest. And I expect you will hear that as part of the arguments before the Senate. The trial, as it were, might be about convincing four senators to call witnesses more than anything else.

But what about the actual charges being brought against the president? What does America think about what the president is actually accused of?

CHALIAN: Yes, John, substantial majorities here in this poll say, yes, it's true that he abused his - -the power of his office. It is true that he obstructed Congress. Fifty-eight percent say President Trump abused the power of his office, 57 percent say he obstructed Congress. You see that's even a bigger number than say he should be convicted and removed, which means there are people who do not think he should be convicted and removed in this trial but who do think he is guilty of doing what he's alleged of having done here.

CAMEROTA: OK, what are his approval ratings right now?

CHALIAN: Rock solid as always. Forty-three percent. I mean it just doesn't move, guys. He is 43 percent approval, where he's been for the last few months, 53 percent disapproval. Well within -- right in that range that he's been for almost the entirety of his presidency. And if you compare where Donald Trump is to all of his modern era predecessors in the January of an election year, you see that Donald Trump's 43 percent is at the bottom of that list. Now, Bill Clinton at 46 percent, George W. -- Barack Obama at 47

percent, they got re-elected. So I'm not suggesting -- but it is -- it is true that Donald Trump has a mountain to climb here as he looks at this election year.

BERMAN: I've got to say, these numbers are very, very interesting. And we overlay them as to what -- in addition to what we will hear today, particularly interesting, David.

David Chalian, thanks so much for bringing us all that.

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: So there will be a fierce debate over the rules proposed by Mitch McConnell for the Senate trial. We're going to tell you exactly what to expect, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:42:33]

BERMAN: The impeachment trial of President Trump begins in earnest today in the Senate with a huge debate over rules proposed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the proceedings.

Let's take a look at how this will play out. We're joined by CNN legal analyst Elie Honig.

This is going to be contentious, Elie.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it is.

I brought a demonstrative exhibit.

CAMEROTA: Oh.

HONIG: If this was a normal criminal trial, this big fat book would tell us everything we needed to know about how this would play out. I carried it around all my years as a prosecutor, all the rules, all the procedures, we would know exactly how this goes.

BERMAN: Explains the biceps, by the way.

CAMEROTA: It really does.

HONIG: Now, we are in a different world now. We are in Senate land. We are in impeachment land. So, that's why we're hours away from this starting and we don't know exactly how it's going to go.

We do know what's going to happen today, though. We are going to start in what the Senate calls open session. And what that means is that the lawyers are going to be making their arguments. The House impeachment managers and Donald Trump's impeachment defense team. So all these senators, all these big names who are used to making big speeches, they're going to have to sit there silently, no phones, it's going to be rough, but that's what viewers should expect. BERMAN: I will also note, by the way, that the president's lawyers

have known what McConnell is going to propose presumably for days, whereas the House impeachment managers have not.

HONIG: Mitch McConnell told us total coordination.

The big moment today is when we will have debate on the McConnell resolution. This is the document that came out last night where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lays out how he wants to propose the trial to go. We'll get to that in a moment.

After that, there will be up to two hours of debate on Chuck Schumer's resolution if he does not agree with McConnell's. Safe bet he's not going to. Last night he called it a natural shame or something like that. You'll have him on later. I'm sure you guys will ask about that.

CAMEROTA: I mean McConnell has the votes on his resolution.

HONIG: Clearly. Clearly.

So Chuck Schumer's going to have to get in there and fight and fight for concessions.

Now, let's look at Mitch McConnell's resolution. So this is how Mitch McConnell is suggesting we go about doing this. First of all, he says the House managers, the people who are prosecuting the case, Adam Schiff and his team, will have 24 hours split over two days to make their presentation. Same time allotment then for Donald Trump's attorneys. Those are long days, 12 hours of trial. When I did trials six, seven days, the jury would -- six, seven hours, your jury would start to get exhausted. Twelve hours --

CAMEROTA: Has he explained why he wants such long days? I understand he wants this to get over with, but has he explained why he thinks they're up to 12 hours a day?

HONIG: He has not explained it. I think there's two answers. I think, number one, he wants to get it done quickly.

[06:45:00]

And, number two, he may want to just drag this out and make it a difficult thing for people to watch.

Then, the senators will question the parties. But, again, we're not going to see Cory Booker or Lindsey Graham rising in their seats to ask questions. They have to write them out, pass them up, like in elementary school, to the chief justice, who then reads the questions to the attorneys. They answer. That goes up to 16 hours, can be spread over more than one day.

And then we get to the key substantive issue where there is debate and then a vote on motions to subpoena witnesses. The first question is going to be, are we going to have witnesses and documents at all? If that is a no, that's it, no additional witnesses and documents. If it ends up being a yes, then any specific witnesses that they want to testify, we talked about John Bolton before, has to first come in and testify in a deposition. And that means behind closed doors, we, the public, will not see it. It will not be on TV.

And then the Senate decides if the witness takes that next step and testifies on the Senate floor. And I think the point there is really to avoid unpleasant surprises. They don't want John Bolton, as Rachael Bade said before, they don't want John Bolton coming out and dropping bombshells for the first time in the well of the Senate on national TV.

And then, finally, the Senate will vote whether to admit all the House evidence, all the testimony we saw. Gordon Sondland --

CAMEROTA: How could they not? Isn't that what the House was doing, was gathering the evidence for the trial?

HONIG: It's a great question. Look, I think it's a leveraging tool. I think it's a consolation prize, essentially. If the Senate says, no extra witnesses, they'll say, Democrats, you get all the evidence that you put in, in your House proceeding. So, but you're right, I mean ultimately how could they not let that in?

Now, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, not surprisingly, they are not seeing eye to eye on this key issue of witnesses. Let's take a quick listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): House Democrats case cannot simultaneously be so robust that it was enough to impeach in the first place but also so weak that the Senate needs to go fishing.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): All we're asking is for the president's own men, his appointees, to come forward, tell their side of the story.

MCCONNELL: Both sides would want to call witnesses that they wanted to hear from.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HONIG: So, who are some of those witnesses who could be in play? Well, we know Democrats are interested in hearing some of these senior officials, Bolton, Mulvaney, Pompeo, Michael Duffey, Lev Parnas is not a senior official, but he's just entered the mix just these last couple days. And Republicans have talked about wanting to subpoena Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, Adam Schiff. I doubt there's the votes there for that. I think that's likely just posturing.

Now, the big question politically, how will this balance of power play out? The majority vote is likely going to carry the day. We've got 53 Republicans, 40 -- essentially 47 Democrats. Those two independents caucus with the Democrats. So, the magic number here is four. Will we see four of those Republicans flip over and join the Democrats? At least these five have suggested they might.

BERMAN: I will note one other thing. Today we will hear first from the president's lawyers in arguing for McConnell's thing. It's not often you get to hear from the defense first in making a case today.

HONIG: Yes.

BERMAN: And so that will be interesting for the American people watching this.

HONIG: That's a great point.

BERMAN: Elie Honig, great to have you with us.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Elie.

HONIG: Thanks, John.

Thanks, Alisyn.

BERMAN: Coming up next hour, we will speak to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer about this battle over the rules for impeachment. What does he intend to do given that Mitch McConnell seems to have the votes to pass these rules today?

CAMEROTA: And we're less than two weeks until the Iowa caucuses and there is new tension between some of the Democratic frontrunners. How are Iowans feeling about all of this? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:52:38]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe Biden is a friend of mine and I've known him for many, many years. He's a very decent guy. And Joe and I have strong disagreements on a number of issues. And we will argue those disagreements out. But it is absolutely not my view that Joe is -- is corrupt in any way. And I'm sorry that that op-ed appeared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: That was Bernie Sanders apologizing to Joe Biden after one of the Sanders campaign surrogates wrote an op-ed accusing the former vice president of having a, quote, big corruption problem.

How is this feud and others play in Iowa with less than two weeks until the caucuses?

Joining us now is Robert Leonard, he's a news director at an Iowa radio station and a contributor for "The New York Times."

Robert, great to have you here.

I've read your op-ed with great interest about how all of this is playing with Iowans.

So, first, those internecine squabbles, are Iowans taking note of the tension between some of the Democrats?

ROBERT LEONARD, NEWS DIRECTOR, KNIA/KRLS: Yes, a little bit, but it's not going to be that big of an issue. Iowans are starting to align behind the candidates that they like. A lot of this is just white noise for them. They're just trying to figure out who they're going to support.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's talk about who they are going to support because you have been to countless events, you have your finger on the pulse, you've been studying this. You wrote in one of your op-eds, you say, we don't care about Biden's electability, we want excitement.

So what does that look like to Iowans?

LEONARD: Well, there's a lot of excitement, there's a lot of energy and a lot of it behind Mayor Pete, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders. I'm starting to see a little bit more for Joe Biden. This whole electability argument really left sort of a sour taste for a lot of Iowa Democrats because we want to get behind people we believe in. They need to get us out on caucus night. And the electability and polling, that's not going to get people out on caucus night. People that you believe in, that you want to get behind, that get people out on caucus night.

CAMEROTA: It sounds like you have not seen a lot of enthusiasm for Joe Biden. You wrote in an op-ed on January 13th, on caucus night, given the soft support I see, if the weather is bad, Mr. Biden's supporters might not come out. It might also depend on what's on TV. The Hallmark Channel might be re-airing a classic.

[06:55:02]

For the other candidates, if their supporters walked outside, slipped on the ice and broke a leg, they would crawl through the snow and ice to caucus.

Ouch.

So why aren't people excited about Joe Biden?

LEONARD: Well, people -- Iowa Democrats deeply respect Joe Biden. When he announced, there was sort of -- that he was running for president, there was sort of a collective groan because -- amongst Democrats because they really like the diverse set of candidates that they already had and that Joe Biden entering the race and Bernie Sanders entering the race also sort of took the life out of it with all this -- with a great diverse set of candidates. It was like we were looking at the past rather than the future.

And so there was never a lot of enthusiasm at the beginning and I see it starting to build now, but there's not the enthusiasm that I see. There was a good event for Joe Biden in Indianola over the weekend. There was some enthusiasm starting to build there. But I just don't see it. There's, you know, the ground game, the energy, the excitement -- at a Pete Buttigieg event yesterday, there were over 300 people in the very conservative town of Pella and there was a lot of excitement. And Bernie Sanders supporters are excited.

We'll see. I don't think the polls matter. It's just who turns out.

CAMEROTA: Well, for sure. I mean you're so right about that. But because you have been, you know, immersed in all of this for all of these months, who do you think is going to win Iowa?

LEONARD: Well, I think that what we need to do is not talk about who's going to win Iowa. I think that that they -- that we've winnowed the field. We've had 25 or 26 candidates and I think that normally they say, well, people are interested in the winner and they're interested in the three tickets out of Iowa. I think that there are five or six tickets out of Iowa and we need to -- should change the narrative. There's still -- there's a lot of good people in, let's let the other states have their say.

CAMEROTA: But, quickly, I mean, in terms of the --

LEONARD: I know that's not what you wanted to hear.

CAMEROTA: Well, correct, it isn't. But in terms of the most enthusiasm, can you narrow it down to two for us of what you've seen?

LEONARD: I can narrow it to three and it's Elizabeth Warren, it's Pete Buttigieg, it's Bernie Sanders and there's -- and -- and Amy Klobuchar is starting to gain some traction here, too.

CAMEROTA: OK. Really interesting.

Robert Leonard --

LEONARD: Andrew Yang has some great supporters too.

CAMEROTA: I did read that you said that. That you think that there's a lot of enthusiasm for Andrew Yang and you also said that there had been for Cory Booker and Kamala Harris and that that's a loss, that they're no longer in.

OK. Well, Robert Leonard, we will wait to see what happens in Iowa. Thank you very much for your take on all this.

John.

BERMAN: The first rule of Iowa fight club is you don't talk about Iowa fight club.

CAMEROTA: No, I guess not.

BERMAN: Clearly not.

CAMEROTA: No.

BERMAN: All right, the comics taking jabs at the president's legal team before the opening arguments.

Here are your "Late Night Laughs." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": The White House submitted a legal brief this afternoon asking the Senate to throw out the impeachment charges against President Trump. They're arguing that you can't throw someone out of office if he's never in it.

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Constitutional law scholar Laurence Tribe says, the argument that only criminal offenses are impeachable has died a thousand deaths in the writings of all the experts on the subject, but it staggers on like a vengeful zombie.

Look, Larry, you may not agree with the president's allies, but I think that the term vengeful zombies is a little -- oh -- oh, on the nose. On the nose.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": For the first time in 160 years, "The New York Times" decided to endorse two candidates, which seems like a cop out, right? You're only supposed to make one endorsement. That's how it works, right? You never saw a LeBron ad where he was like, to quench my thirst I choose Sprite or water. That's fine. Either way. I mean they both work. Whichever one. You choose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Many people made that comment, it takes two women to get one endorsement.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Uh-huh. See what I'm saying?

BERMAN: I hear you.

CAMEROTA: All right.

A big battle over the rules for the Senate impeachment trial.

NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released his rules proposal for the impeachment trial of President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll push through that and have that motion to dismiss and get through this national nightmare as fast as possible.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know how you could go any faster while still allowing the participants time to sleep and to eat. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not the Senate's job to mop up the mess of the

House. They didn't make the case because there was no crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the most important moment for the Republican Party since the censure of Joe McCarthy and the impeachment of Richard Nixon.

[07:00:03]

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers --