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New CNN National Poll Released; House Managers Begin Arguments Today; McConnell Pushed to Change Rules; Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 22, 2020 - 06:30   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This point that that is done in a closed setting. So at the -- at the very least we might potentially see John Bolton testify in a closed setting. But I think it's very telling, John and Alisyn, that at this point all the president's defense team is willing to stand for at this point is John Bolton behind closed doors. That, obviously, is not going to go over very well with a lot of Americans who want to see witnesses according to poll after poll after poll.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Jim, thank you very much. We'll see what unfolds today.

ACOSTA: You bet.

CAMEROTA: There seem to be surprises built into every day.

There's also this brand new CNN poll on the 2020 race. And it shows one candidate making big moves. That's next.



BERMAN: So not just breaking news, but breaking now as in --

CAMEROTA: We just broke it.

BERMAN: Right now. A brand new national poll on the 2020 race that we are releasing now. You are the first to see this. It shows Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden ahead of the pack. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg significantly now behind the frontrunners. The biggest movement definitely coming from Bernie Sanders, steadily rising since October.


Joining us now, CNN political director David Chalian.

And, David, this poll looks different than the ones we have seen. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It does, John, because of what

you said. This seven-point movement since our last poll for Bernie Sanders. And for the first time in the entirety of this campaign in CNN's national polling, Joe Biden doesn't have the lead position all to himself. There's now a shared top tier between these two front runners.

Take a look what's behind those numbers when you look at white voters and non-white voters. This is key. Sanders there is making up some ground in Joe Biden's core strength. He is now getting to a place you see with 30 percent of non-white voters. Biden has 27 percent of non- white voters in this poll.

This has been an overwhelming advantage for Biden throughout the entire campaign. That's -- that is no longer the case in this poll. Remember, this is one poll. We will look to see as other data come out if other polls look like it.

The other thing I want to point out here is that Bernie Sanders is consolidating the liberal base. He has been battling back and forth throughout the fall with Elizabeth Warren about getting those liberals together. And if you look over time here you see back in October Warren had a slight edge. November, Sanders had a slight edge. December, they were about tied. Well, now, Bernie Sanders has consolidated that liberal base, 33 percent of self-identified liberals go with him in this poll, 19 percent go for Senator Warren.

BERMAN: I have to say, it explains or might help explain some of the things that Warren has done over the last few weeks.

Electability has been very important to Democratic voters up until now. What are we seeing with that?

CHALIAN: And it is still so now, John. Take a look at this number, 57 percent say they are looking for a candidate who's more important for the Dem nominee to have a strong chance of beating President Trump than only 35 percent who says shares your position. We've seen an erosion of that electability priority in December. Well, this is bouncing back.

And then, take a look, we asked potential Democratic voters, well, who is the person you think can defeat Donald Trump? Who has the best chance? Joe Biden still has this as a very core strength, 45 percent in this poll say he has the best chance to beat Trump, then 24 percent Sanders, 8 percent Warren, 7 percent say that about Michael Bloomberg.

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting because, obviously, that's counter to the fact that you're seeing all of this movement from Sanders, but they still think that Joe Biden has the best chance.

And so that leads us to enthusiasm. So what does it say about that?

CHALIAN: Yes. And, you know, Alisyn, enthusiasm is critical when you're talking about getting your supporters out, feeling enthusiastic about your choice is a key component to that. And that, right now, is a Bernie Sanders category. Take a look. You'll see, he's at 38 percent now in terms of you would

be enthusiastic if Bernie Sanders was the nominee. He was at 39 percent in October. Look at Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren there. They've dropped since we asked this in October. Warren went from 41 percent to now 29 percent Democrats say enthusiastic if she's the nominee, 43 percent in October for Joe Biden, now at 34 percent.

So, Sanders and Biden are about the same. They're competitive there within the margin of error. But we've seen drops with Biden and Warren on this and Sanders is holding steady.

BERMAN: Now, I know, David, you were very careful whenever talking about the head-to-head matchups with President Trump in a poll this early on. It is not predictive. We are not suggesting it is. What it does tell you is where voters are today. And what does it tell us today?

CHALIAN: Yes. And it's important we look at this in two different ways. So, first, take a look at registered voters in this poll, what is that snapshot right now? And you see here, we tested six Democrats here and they are all besting Donald Trump numerically. And you see Amy Klobuchar there is the only one that's actually within the margin of error. Everyone else tested is outside the margin of error.

But then we looked at the 15 most competitive states, John. We looked at this universe of battleground states. Look how much more competitive this race gets. This is what we're talking about, the difference between popular vote and Electoral College. This is the battleground. Every one of these races basically is within the margin of error. All of them. And so this -- I think it shows you how competitive this general election looks from this distance of January of the election year, even with impeachment going on, even with the 43 percent approval rating, you see very competitive general election matchups there.

CAMEROTA: David Chalian, thank you very much for this hot off the presses poll.

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting.

All right, it's day two of the president's impeachment trial. We will get a preview of what to expect, next.



CAMEROTA: The House Democratic impeachment managers will begin to make their case against President Trump with opening arguments at 1:00 p.m. today.

For more on what we should expect, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig joins us.

Elie, thank you.

You're going to take us through what we're going to see today.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So yesterday was a really important procedural day. The rules are in place now. Today we get to the heart of the matter.

So, we will be hearing today, even though this is happening in the U.S. Senate, not from the senators, but from the House impeachment managers. This is the team of seven Democratic members of the House of Representatives. They'll be speaking.

I would expect Adam Schiff to lead off. And then I think you'll see different portions broken up to the different managers.

One who really stood out to me yesterday for his performance was Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. I thought he was sharp, he was on point and he capped one of his points with a quote from the Notorious B.I.G., and you have to give him some bonus points for that.

So, how will it work?

It starts at 1:00 p.m. And then the House managers will have 24 hours over three consecutive days. Now, this three day is a change. The original rule from McConnell was two days, meaning they'd have to have two 12 hour days. Now they will have three days up to eight hours each.

But a big, important thing for our viewers to know is consecutive. We've gotten into this rhythm where there's a back and forth. Yesterday it was House managers. Then Trump's team back and forth. In the House we had these five minutes. Today it is going to be all House managers uninterrupted today, tomorrow, and the next day.


And then the defense team will get their three consecutive days. So that's a really important distinction.

CAMEROTA: Even into Saturday, we should tell people.

HONIG: Including Saturday. Everyone tune in Saturday, yes.

BERMAN: I have to tell you, I know today is technically the opening arguments, but it seemed like the House managers went into yesterday and said, you know what, you're going to let us speak. We're going to tell you exactly what you need to know now. We're not waiting.

So what do you think the argument is? What do you think we're going to hear from them?

HONIG: Yes, so they did. And the phrase "opening argument," John, as you said, is a little bit misleading because in a regular, criminal trial, the opening argument is really like a preview. It's like a coming attraction. When I gave opening arguments, I don't think I ever went more than an hour. Now we're going to see three days' worth. And as Adam Schiff told us yesterday, the opening arguments here could

be the actual -- not the trailer, but the movie himself.

Let's listen to Adam Schiff, how he described it.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The opening statements are the trial. They'll either be most of the trial or they'll be all of the trial. If the Senate votes to deprive itself of witnesses and documents, the opening statements will be the end of the trial.

How -- how to, pardon the expression, ass backwards it is to have a trial and then ask for witnesses.


HONIG: Yes, the Chief Justice did not admonish him for that, but --

CAMEROTA: John was appalled. I can tell you that one.

HONIG: John -- I see John is very offended.

CAMEROTA: Very appalled.

BERMAN: You -- every time I try to say something about it, you cross it out of the scripts.

CAMEROTA: Well, it's only when you're quoting officials.

BERMAN: All right, fine.

HONIG: That was the well of the Senate. This is NEW DAY.

And so what will the evidence be? And what the Democrat wills do today, the House managers, is try to weave together the evidence into a compelling narrative. Yesterday Donald Trump tweeted, all caps, read the transcript. I think Democrats are going to say, please do.

The July 25th transcript will be back. You will see it. You will -- you will be reminded of this key phrase from Donald Trump, I would like you to do us a favor though.

Also, these witnesses, you remember from a couple months ago who testified in the House. You will see clips, video clips, of their testimony replayed back today. I think you'll see some memorable moments, like when Fiona Hill said this was a domestic political errand, when Gordon Sondland said everyone was in the loop, when David Holmes talked about the restaurant conversation, when he overheard Donald Trump on a cell phone asking about investigations.

I also think you're going to see Adam Schiff and his team highlight the missing witnesses, because, remember, they're setting up for the vote that's going to follow about will we have witnesses. These are the four missing witnesses. So look for the House managers to say, here are voids, here are gaps in the information that these witnesses can fill.

And, finally, expect the House managers to use Donald Trump's own words and the words of the people close to him as one of their most powerful exhibits. I think you're going to see clips like these.


MICK MULVANEY (October 17, 2019): I have news for everything, get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy.

QUESTION: What exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? Exactly?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I would think that if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the Bidens.

Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens.


HONIG: They're going to make Donald Trump the star witness in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting. They don't need him to show up. They would like him to show up. But they have a lot of videotape.

HONIG: Yes, they've got him on tape. They've got his Twitter. It's all -- it's all in play.

BERMAN: I've got to tell you, though, my big question is, how much are they going to make the cover-up, the idea of the no witnesses, be the main argument they make over the next three days? Yes, they'll lay out the case, but I think they're going to have that be a big part of every sentence, frankly.

HONIG: Absolutely. Yes.

BERMAN: All right, Elie, thanks very much.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Elie.

HONIG: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Mitch McConnell, he backed down on his proposed impeachment trial rules after Republicans, a whole bunch of Republican senators, pushed back. So how significant is that? What does this tell us going forward? Next.



BERMAN: So the most significant moment in the Senate impeachment trial happened before they even began making arguments yesterday. And it's when Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, backed down. He changed his proposed rules for how the trial's supposed to begin. You can see it right here. They actually had to scratch things out and write it in by hand at the last minute as they were reading them out loud. We only learned that he was going to extend the opening arguments over more days than he initially proposed and he would allow the evidence that the House impeachment managers gathered over the impeachment process.

So what does it tell us that Mitch McConnell backed down?

Joining us now, CNN political commentators and former Republican members of Congress, Sean Duffy and Charlie Dent.

And, Charlie, let me start with you.

We learned that there was a Senate lunch, a meeting, where up to 15 Republican senators were upset with the initial rules that Mitch McConnell was putting forward and pressured him to change them. What does that tell you?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it tells me that I think that Senator McConnell compressed the time frame far too much and there was real resistance from the members. And it wasn't just Susan Collins. And there were others. But I think it was smart to extend it from two days to three days to hear opening statements. And then there were also wise, again, to admit the evidence from the House more easily. So I think that -- I think maybe -- McConnell overplayed and maybe misread his conference and his conference brought him back to a better place.

BERMAN: What kind of pressure, Charlie, does that tell you that some Republicans might be feeling at home over this?

DENT: Well, I think a lot of Republican senators probably realize they may need to vote for some witnesses. I mean people want this trial to be seen as fair and I think there is -- I think the Democrats are making a reasonable argument, demanding that certain witnesses, like Mulvaney, like Blair, like the other Duffey, Michael Duffey, and John Bolton all be brought forward. I think those are reasonable requests. I think it will be very hard for Republicans to resist that witness request.

The question, of course, is, will there be four votes? I suspect there will be.

BERMAN: Now, Sean, there is new polling out from CNN which shows that 69 percent of Americans polled feel there should be more witnesses.


We also have numbers and Republicans want (ph) a plurality of Republicans think there should be witnesses.

Do you feel that that might be weighing -- or how do you feel that that might be weighing on some of these senators as they listen to these arguments? SEAN DUFFY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, listen, I don't think this outweighs in on their opinion. I think they look to their home states. Like here in Wisconsin, John, by a 12 point margin, Wisconsinites don't favor impeachment. Fifty-two percent say get rid of this thing, get rid of impeachment, 40 percent support impeachment. So I think they look back to their home states as to, you know, how they're directed in the impeachment proceedings.

But with regard to witnesses, I mean I do think Adam Schiff controlled the whole House and the whole impeachment narrative as he went through the investigation. He did have a choice to call these witnesses --

BERMAN: He did. He called them. He called them. He called them.

DUFFY: To subpoena these witnesses in the House and he didn't subpoena them.

BERMAN: He called them.

DUFFY: But he didn't subpoena them, and so the way --

BERMAN: He called them and they said -- they said, no.

DUFFY: The way you deal with this --

BERMAN: And then the White House tried to block them, correct?

DUFFY: But, John, you know this very well, when you have a disagreement with the White House, which is the executive branch, you go to the courts to decide the differences. And Adam Schiff didn't go to court. He said, I'm not going to call them. I'm not going to subpoena them. And we'll just go to the Senate because I have an overwhelming case.

So if Schiff has an overwhelming case, go to the Senate, present the evidence that you've created in the House, and let the chips fall where they may. And I think that's where the American people, in the end, will end up viewing the Senate procedure.

BERMAN: You know who disagrees with you on this argument? Mitch McConnell. The 1999 version of Mitch McConnell.

So let's play that.

DUFFY: All right.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY) (January 28, 1999): It's not unusual to have a witness in a trial. It's certainly not unusual to have a witness in an impeachment.

MCCONNELL (February 10, 1999): My view was that we were entitled to witnesses. I voted for live witnesses myself.

Had my vote prevailed, they'd have been live witnesses. I would have been prepared to vote for whatever the House managers wanted in terms of putting on their trial.


BERMAN: How can you call Mitch McConnell wrong, Congressman Duffy?

DUFFY: What I'm going to say today is going to shock you, John. I'm going to tell you that Chuck Schumer is right because Chuck Schumer in 1999, if you played that clip, said, we should have no witnesses. We don't need to call witnesses. This is a political show. That's what Chuck Schumer said.

So what -- what I think this indicates, John, is that this is partisan. This is politics. In 1999 it was. And today it is. This isn't seeking the truth.

I think a lot of Republicans, at least from where I come from, think that Democrats have been trying to impeach Donald Trump for three years. They're trying to put a stain on his record so they can have an influence in the 2020 election. This isn't about truth, this is about politics, and you saw that in the clip you played from Mitch McConnell and in the reference that I just made to what Chuck Schumer said with witnesses from '99 as well.

BERMAN: Charlie, I do wonder that if this becomes a discussion over the next ten days or longer, and it already has become this discussion about what will be admitted and whether or not they will allow witnesses and whether or not they will allow new evidence, this is the ground it seems to me that Democrats would like to fight on for the next few days. This seems to be a point that they're trying to make, yes?

DENT: Yes, the Democrats are smart to want to fight this out over substance. Frankly, I don't think the Democrats look very good when they're -- when they argue excessively about procedure because it's so arcane. Nobody understands it. It makes your hair hurt. Nobody really cares that much. But I think they're on much better ground when they're talking substance.

Now, to be fair, you know, the Democrats, you know, they rushed this thing in the House. We all know this. They had an arbitrary deadline of Christmas and the Senate Republicans are rushing this thing to meet the State of the Union deadline. But to the extent that they're focused on substance, I think the Democrats are prevailing and I think they're making a very compelling case for witnesses.

And also to be fair, look, you know, the White House certainly did stonewall. They certainly did stonewall witnesses from coming forward over there. But at the same time, I think Sean Duffy is correct, that the Democrats didn't want to fight the privilege battles and now they expect the Republicans to do it. So, bottom line is, they need a -- they should have had a negotiated agreement on witnesses and then we could move on.

BERMAN: Hey, Congressman Duffy, if you bumped into John Bolton on the street or at a cocktail party, would you ask him what he knew or what he saw? Wouldn't you be curious about what he could tell us about what happened behind the scenes and whether he could inform this discussion about what the president did and why?

DUFFY: No, listen, I'm not -- I -- no, I don't think that John Bolton really plays into the fact narrative. And if he did, Adam Schiff would have called him.

BERMAN: He did. He did.

DUFFY: He would have subpoenaed him. He would have brought him in.

BERMAN: No, no, but he called him. He called him.

DUFFY: He didn't -- he --

BERMAN: He -- he called him.

DENT: Why did he call it a drug deal?


DENT: Yes, why did he call it a drug deal?

DUFFY: So -- what -- so -- so Charlie and I both --

DENT: Why run to the lawyers?

DUFFY: Charlie and I both know, we were House members, it's frustrating. We've called, in the Obama administration in to provide us evidence, to provide us witnesses, and they claimed executive privilege. And when we wanted to push back on Obama, we went to the courts. Fast and Furious was a perfect example. This is the way the system works.

BERMAN: All right.


DUFFY: And you wanted a John Bolton, if you want a Mick Mulvaney, go to the courts and make that decision yourself and fight that battle there, not now in the Senate.

BERMAN: All right.

DUFFY: Where it's going to turn into a --

BERMAN: Congressman