Return to Transcripts main page
Sanders Apologizes To Biden For Supporter Alleging Corruption; Four Dem Senators Sidelined From Campaign During Impeachment; Fact- Checking Five Arguments From Trump's Legal Team; Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Discusses About His Reaction To The Proposed Rules By Senator McConnell About The Senate Impeachment Trial; Dem Leader Chuck Schumer On Battle Over Impeachment Rules; Battle Over Impeachment Witnesses Heats Up; Six Deaths, Nearly 300 Cases Of Wuhan Coronavirus. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired January 21, 2020 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: But let's also think back to the weekend where you saw this debate over Social Security play out. And Joe Biden called out the Sanders campaign for promoting this video that took some comments from him out of context relating to Social Security. So Bernie Sanders' attempt to take on Joe Biden when it comes to that issue of Social Security was in part overshadowed by the fact that they were promoting an out of context video.
So this is something that the Sanders campaign is going to have to grapple with going forward. And in fact this morning, Hillary Clinton, there's a new interview with her from The Hollywood Reporter where she's quite critical of Bernie Sanders in the fact that oftentimes his supporters are lobbying attacks against his rivals, particularly women. And she says that that's something that people need to pay attention to, suggesting that it could be a culture that is fostered.
So there are a lot of Democrats who are so concerned about the way Bernie Sanders handles the 2016 campaign, the way he referred to Hillary Clinton back then and that's something that he could have to grapple with in these coming weeks before the Iowa caucuses kicked off.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So tell us how former VP Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg are making hay of being able to still be on the campaign trail while four of their competitors are in Washington for the impeachment trial?
SAENZ: Well, Biden and Buttigieg are certainly going to try to take advantage of the fact that they are the only ones here on the ground, in that top tier of candidates over these next few days. Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are going to be holding events throughout Iowa.
For Joe Biden, the impeachment trial also gives him another chance to reinforce that he believes President Trump is most concerned about having him as the Democratic nominee. But you have those four senators who are now turning their attention from the campaign trail to Capitol Hill. They're going to be logging very long hours over these coming weeks.
They're going to have to get creative with their own campaigning. Bernie Sanders had plans at evening rally for tomorrow here in Iowa, but it's unclear what these new rules and timing for the Senate impeachment trial if that's going to allow him to still come here.
So certainly, we are in these final weeks before the caucuses and one thing to remember is we're 13 days out, 60 percent of Iowa Democratic caucus goers are either not fully committed to their first candidate or they're undecided. So it shows just how fluid this race is and how critical it is to be getting that face time to try to sway Iowans to caucus for them on February 3rd.
CAMEROTA: I think it's interesting to look at where the polls are right now so that we can compare it to where they are after the President Trump's Senate impeachment trial. So at the moment Joe in Iowa, this is the Monmouth poll, Joe Biden is at 24 percent, Bernie Sanders 18, Pete Buttigieg 17, Elizabeth Warren 15, Amy Klobuchar 8 percent and then it drops down from there.
And so it'll just be interesting to see if those things are sort of shuffled afterwards. And then, of course, Arlette, there's also the factor of the TV ad spending. And those numbers in some cases are astronomical.
And so Mike Bloomberg has spent, I mean this is not just Iowa, this is everywhere. He has spent $235 million. Tom Steyer, also a billionaire, $149 million. President Trump $41 million and then it goes down from there. Pete Buttigieg has spent a lot, $26 million. Bernie Sanders $24.6.
So do our Iowans feeling all of that?
SAENZ: Well, I think Iowans could certainly feel that the 2020 election is here. They have been pounded by these TV ads for months now. But really a lot of those candidates, they just can't compete with that figure, $253 million that Michael Bloomberg has put up nationally and it also raises some questions about what is this race going to look like after those first four nominating states.
Bloomberg is not competing in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are really drilling in on Super Tuesday. No candidate has really successfully been able to do that, but could these ads kind of put him over the top or give him a little bit of an edge heading into those Super Tuesday states which are going to be very critical in deciding this nominating contest. But here in Iowa, they are certainly flooded with tons of TV ads from the candidates.
CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. Arlette Saenz, thank you very much for being on the ground in Iowa and giving us the take from there. John.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right. The stage is set for a fierce debate today over Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's rules for the impeachment trial. Democrats are vowing to challenge his plan, how? We will speak live with the Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer about all of it next.
BERMAN: We first learned of President Trump's pressure campaign against Ukraine in September when a whistleblower came forward. The President insisted then that it was a perfect phone call. Since then, there have been many other defenses.
John Avlon joins us now with the Reality Check. John.
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, guys. Look, presidential impeachment is a serious business and so you might expect the defense to be serious as well. But unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case judging by two documents put forward by President Trump's lawyers. They essentially represent an attempt to put Trump's Twitter feed and rally speeches into legalese.
So here's a look at five fact free arguments you're likely to hear over the next few days and weeks. One, the articles of impeachment violate the Constitution. These are nonsense words and a contradiction in terms. Impeachment is, of course, written into the Constitution.
Look, good people can disagree with the charges, the process or especially whether it rises to the level of removal from office. But it takes brass to argue that impeachment itself is unconstitutional.
Two, they fail to allege any crime or violation of law whatsoever. Now, Republicans seems set to ignore the recent findings from the GAO after the articles were adopted that the hold on Ukraine military aid did break the law.
Trump Republicans seem to be arguing that without an indictable crime, impeachment is illegitimate. But here's Alan Dershowitz, now a member of Trump's legal team, explaining his take on that idea back in '82.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, TRUMP'S IMPEACHMENT DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It certainly doesn't to be a crime. If you have somebody who completely corrupts the office of president and who abuses trust and who poses great danger to our liberty ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: Which brings us to number three, abuse of power is not an impeachable offense. And the White House Legal Brief alternately calls this a novel theory and a made up standard. That's a novel definition of novel, which the dictionary defines this new and not resembling something formerly known. Because abuse of power was the second article of impeachment drawn up against President Nixon and it was an article put forward against President Clinton at the recommendation of Ken Starr who's now a member of the Trump legal team.
But let's go all the way back to the Constitutional Convention and look there's Edmund Randolph. Later the first Attorney General arguing that impeachment was important because 'the executive will have great opportunities of abusing his power'.
Number four, obstruction is not an impeachable offense. They're calling this a radical theory that would do grave damage to the separation of powers, but this is not a radical idea. Obstruction was core to the articles of impeachment against Nixon and the Supreme Court weighed in definitively in U.S. versus Nixon writing, "The generalized assertion of privilege must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial."
Bill Clinton was initially accused by Ken Starr of abusing his power by invoking executive privilege and lying repeatedly, and that's ...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN STARR, FORMER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL INVESTIGATING PRESIDENT CLINTON: Any privilege can be invoked no matter how unmeritorious one thinks it is that that's not an abuse. I disagree with that. I think if privileges are invoked for the purposes of delay and have the intended effect of delay and I think that is what happened ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AVLON: And that's despite handing over reams of documents, allowing direct witnesses to testify, all things that Trump White House has refused to do and Clinton even testified under oath himself.
Finally, number five, despite all of the evidence, the President did nothing wrong. That's right. President's legal team is all-in with his insistence of complete innocence, arguing that the call with Ukrainian President was perfectly appropriate and just about the important issue of Ukrainian corruption.
Now, if all of this is true, you'd think that the White House would be fighting to have direct witnesses exonerate the President under oath. That's not what's happening. Instead, we see an often fact-free strategy of deflect and project, arguing that it's the Democrats who are engaged in a brazen and unlawful attempt to interfere with the 2020 election. And that's your Reality Check.
BERMAN: John, thank you very much for that. Look, there is Edmund Randolph.
So the Senate impeachment trial against President Trump will kick off today with this fiery debate over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's rules, which do seem designed to quickly acquit the President and limit evidence that the jurors will hear. So what will the democrats do about this?
Joining me now is the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Leader Schumer, thank you very much for being with us this morning.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Good morning.
BERMAN: If I can, you mentioned it last night, but your first reaction to these rules proposed by Senator McConnell which condense the arguments over to two days each and could lead to an up or down vote as soon as next week.
SCHUMER: Well, look, the rules that McConnell proposed, proposed a trial that is rushed with as little evidence as possible and done in the dark of night; 1 am, 2 am, 3 am. If the Republican arguments were so strong, if President Trump were so confident and McConnell we're so confident of his arguments, why do they have to do them at two in the morning? Why can't they do them in the light of day?
The rules he proposed are really a national disgrace for this reason, impeachment is the only other power that the Constitution gives when you have an overreaching president and we know that this President has overreached more than any other president. The other, of course, are elections.
But if you don't have a real trial that you can judge impeachment on the merits, then this democracy is eroded. And Mitch McConnell will go down in history as one of the people eroding democracy because he has gone along with President Trump's cover up hook, line and sinker.
The trial doesn't even allow the evidence from the House to be entered in. So they don't want old evidence, but they also don't want new witnesses, new documents. So they don't want new evidence, they don't want any evidence and they're trying to just - they're so sure, I think, in their hearts that what President Trump did was very wrong and that there's a very good case against him for removal that they're afraid of a fair trial.
That's the only answer that can be given, because no one when they look at what McConnell did. All along he said, well, let's go along with 99, but he made major changes just the kind that Donald Trump, hardly a person of probity, asked for in this resolution.
BERMAN: Let's break this down into parts.
SCHUMER: We're going to fight it.
BERMAN: Let's break this down into parts, if we can.
BERMAN: One of your problems seems to be with the timing.
BERMAN: You think too much of it will happen late at night?
SCHUMER: That's what they've done. There's 24 hours./
They mirrored the Clinton impeachment with 24 hours for each side, but they said it has to be done in two days we'll just divide it in half, simple math, 12 hours. We start at one o'clock. Twelve hours gets us to 1 am, but there's going to be a break for
bathroom break, there'll be probably a dinner break. We'll do this at two, three in the morning. That is an absolute disgrace. An absolute disgrace. And again, it's not just Chuck Schumer or Democrats, the American people are asking what is Trump hiding.
Just today, I think, your poll showed that a majority of Americans think he should be removed from office. So it's clear that the American people don't buy this theory that he did nothing wrong. Everything was perfect. And it's also clear that Mitch McConnell and his Republican colleagues are afraid of a trial, a real trial, a fair trial with evidence.
BERMAN: What does it mean that the evidence will not be part of the record? All of the evidence from the House investigation and impeachment process will not be part of the Senate trial record at least for now. What does that mean to you?
SCHUMER: Well, what it means is that the basis for the house impeachment will not be in the record. And I guarantee you that Republicans will then get up and say, well, we don't have any evidence, we shouldn't have witnesses and documents.
Because today before this awful resolution is put on the floor for a vote, I will be able to make amendments and there will be amendments for witnesses documents and to undo the worst of what they've done here. But then there's a second chance later and they have made it harder despite the fact that they said, well, let's listen to the evidence. Let's listen, rather, to the both sides make their case and then we'll decide on witnesses and documents.
Already, Mitch McConnell has prejudged that by making it harder to get votes on witnesses and documents later.
BERMAN: You said you're going to propose amendments today. Let's talk about what you're going to do about this today. What amendments? How many?
SCHUMER: Well, we're working that through right now and I want to talk to my caucus, but we will require every senator to vote on whether there should be certain witnesses, whether there should be certain documents and whether we should have the kind of unfair stacked deck Alice in Wonderland type proceeding that McConnell has proposed.
They may go along with them today. But when we get a second bite at the apple later and we will work very hard to do it, despite what McConnell has done, it may be that two things happen. A; the weight of the American people, 64 percent, close to 70 percent in your poll ...
BERMAN: Sixty-nine percent.
SCHUMER: ... yes, said ...
BERMAN: Sixty-nine percent of the of the American people say they want witnesses, 48 percent of Republicans say ... SCHUMER: Yes, that's that point, even Republicans.
BERMAN: ... they want witnesses, which is a plurality. What ...
SCHUMER: So, wait, there's the weight of the American people, but there's one other thing. Founding fathers were darn smart and the weight of the Constitution, the weight of America, the weight of being part of a cover up sham trial on one of the most important powers that the founding fathers gave as a check on an overreaching president.
I am hopeful, that's the way I put it, that it will weigh never on Mitch McConnell's shoulders, he just does what's political and what's good for Trump, but on some Republicans' shoulders.
BERMAN: Well, we're talking about 69 percent of the American people who want witnesses now.
BERMAN: Zero percent of Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Lamar Alexander want witnesses at least today, OK? Today.
BERMAN: Let me read you Mitt Romney's statement today. He says, "I have made clear to my colleagues and the public that the Senate should have the opportunity to decide on witnesses following the opening arguments, as occurred in the Clinton trial. If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments," i.e. today, "I would oppose those efforts."
You don't have the votes today, Senator, correct?
SCHUMER: We never expected to have the votes today, but we expect to be able because this awful resolution is not governing to lay a predicate for future votes later. And I have a great deal of respect for Mitt Romney. I hope he reads what McConnell has done, because it makes it harder to get witnesses and documents even later in the second phase after each side makes its arguments.
BERMAN: One of the things, one of the arguments you hear from Republicans and why, for instance, they don't want the evidence from the House trial or House impeachment process submitted to the record is, oh, the President didn't have due process there. This is just rewards for that.
BERMAN: How do you respond?
SCHUMER: The double talk is amazing. Mitch McConnell gets on the floor and says the House rushed it. And then he's rushing it far more than the House ever did. They say that the House didn't allow witnesses. It was the President to blocked all of these witnesses. The House subpoenaed all four witnesses that we've asked for here, that I've asked for here in the Senate. So there's so much double talk going on and all I can think about is
that the Republican Party is now in blind obedience to President Trump, a person that even the American people as have been, the majority don't think is honest, don't think is fair.
BERMAN: There is element of this.
SCHUMER: Founding fathers didn't want that. They didn't want that.
BERMAN: There is an element of this though which is just who runs with chamber, because you're making some of the same arguments that Republicans were making in the House, which is to say, we're not getting a fair swing at this.
SCHUMER: Well, I think ...
BERMAN: This is being run by the Democrats and now when it's being run by the Republicans as Democrats saying we're not getting a fair swing.
SCHUMER: No offense, that's sort of a very superficial argument. It was the President who blocked the witnesses in the House. We want the witnesses. The right thing to do is have witnesses. And so I don't think there's any analogy at all.
And I'm hopeful, as I said, that the weight of the Constitution, the weight of the future of the republic, because if there's not fair impeachment trials in overreaching president like this one or maybe God forbid, future ones will overreach. And that's what our democracy tries to argue against.
BERMAN: Will this debate today be out in the public or will you or any Democrats move for deliberation between the senators, the senators could argue about this.
SCHUMER: No, we want everything to be open. We're not afraid of the truth and we're not afraid of witnesses, documents, evidence. And, look, the witnesses we've asked for, they're Trump's appointees, they're not our people. They're not Democratic hacks. And we don't know what they'll say.
BERMAN: We don't.
SCHUMER: What they may say might be exculpatory to Trump or they might condemn Trump. They might condemn Trump.
BERMAN: John Bolton, The Washington Post is reporting today that if there are the votes to get witnesses, that the President's defense team and the Senate Republicans might move to have Bolton's testimony be in a classified setting behind closed doors. Is that something Democrats would ever agree to?
SCHUMER: No. Cover up, cover up, cover up.
BERMAN: Senator Chuck Schumer, Democratic Minority Leader, thank you very much for being with us.
SCHUMER: Thank you.
BERMAN: You have a long day and weeks ahead.
SCHUMER: We do. But an important day and a day where we, Democrats, are going to be defending the Constitution.
BERMAN: Thank you for being with us.
SCHUMER: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Well, we are also going to hear from one of the impeachment managers, Zoe Lofgren, in just minutes. I'm sure she was listening very closely to your interview and what Chuck Schumer thinks is going to happen next as everyone is, because it's going to be a very interesting, long and intense day.
Also, this, there's a deadly respiratory virus and it is spreading. So Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to be here with an update of what you need to know about symptoms and what this means for you.
CAMEROTA: Concern is growing this morning over an outbreak of the new SARS-like virus in China. At least six people have died from Wuhan Coronavirus and there are nearly 300 confirmed cases. The World Health Organization will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to determine if this constitutes a public health emergency.
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. So Sanjay, what can you tell us about this disease?
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, not even a month ago, Alisyn, we were talking about this as what seemed like a pretty localized outbreak in Central China. And as you point out, the numbers have changed dramatically, just over the last couple of weeks. Even overnight we've been monitoring this and the numbers continue to go up.
We can show you, as you mentioned, nearly 300 people have been infected. You can see the number of countries now that are affected, four countries, and that's one of the big concerns, how will this thing continue to spread. You see that there's 51 people in severe condition, 12 in critical condition.
What we know and I think this is one of the big points, Alisyn, I remember this covering the SARS outbreak and the MERS outbreak, at some point the question is, is this something that is just spreading from animals to humans as it seemed to be in central China, people visiting the seafood and exotic pet markets or is this something that is spreading from human to human. And we now have evidence that it is spreading from human to human. It
seems like 14 healthcare workers that were taking care of this patient in Wuhan were infected and we also know people who never visited Wuhan are now carrying the virus. So that human to human transmission is what this meeting tomorrow, this public health meeting is going to be all about.
CAMEROTA: Really scary, I mean or at least it sounds scary to the layperson. And so what's keeping public health officials up at night most?
GUPTA: Well, I think immediately what you think of when you hear this Coronavirus and we have an image of what this looks like, you think of SARS. You remember this? I mean, I covered this in 2003. You think of MERS.
By the way, quick microbiology, Coronavirus, that's the crown on the outside. You'll always be able to identify this type of virus. They're mostly in animals, Alisyn. Seven times have we ever documented, they jumped from animals to humans and only two of those times what did it ended up being a really significant infection, SARS and MERS.
So what's keeping public health officials up at night is, is this going to go the way of SARS and MERS. SARS was in nearly two dozen countries, 8,000 people infected, 800 people died. Is it going to go that way or is it going to be more of a more innocuous, gets people sick but people don't really die. We don't know yet. And that's what they're going to try and determine, look at all of these data and figure that out.
CAMEROTA: OK. Sanjay Gupta, thank you very much. Please keep us posted on any developments with this. And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster is next. For our U.S. viewers, our special coverage of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just hours before the Senate trial, Mitch McConnell unveiled a resolution detailing how the trial would take shape.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Each side gets up to 24 hours over two days to lay out their case.
SCHUMER: This resolution is totally departing from the Clinton resolution, despite what Leader McConnell promised.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a hoax. It's the witch-hunt that's been going on for years. Frankly, it's disgraceful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wants a fast trial, not a fair trial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to get it in before the State of the Union. If they aren't, they're crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, January 21st, eight o'clock in the East.