Return to Transcripts main page
McConnell Pushed to Change Rules; New Documents Released from OMB; Biden and Sanders Lead in Poll. Aired 7:00-7:30a ET
Aired January 22, 2020 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SEAN DUFFY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: 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.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right.
DUFFY: Where it's going to turn into a --
DUFFY: A big, messy show.
BERMAN: Congressman Duffy, Congressman Dent, thank you very much for being with us. We'll talk to you again over the next several days.
DUFFY: Thanks, John.
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Take care.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, it's the second day of President Trump's historic impeachment trial. It will begin in just hours. But NEW DAY continues right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): There's a reason why we're here to five till midnight, and that's because they don't want the American people to see what's going on here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once you hear those initial presentations, the only conclusion will be that the president has done absolutely nothing wrong.
KELLYANNE CONWAY: Everybody who wants to see John Bolton marching in or Mick Mulvaney marching in, they're going to be sorely disappointed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was frustrated that Republicans were voting over and over again not to allow witnesses or documents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are setting up the Republican members of the Senate to fail down the road when they come later and say, well, I don't have information on this. If you want to deliberate and have information, wouldn't you want it right now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.
Day one of the Senate impeachment trial did not wrap up until 2:00 a.m. this morning. Senators debated the rules for nearly 13 hours.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer offered 11 separate amendments to try to subpoena witnesses and to get documents and 11 times Republicans shot those down.
The votes fell along party lines except for Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who sided with the Democrats once on one motion to allow more time for each side to respond.
Before the debate even began, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to revise his rules to more closely match the Clinton impeachment trial. Now the Senate will automatically put the House impeachment findings into evidence and both sides will each get three days to present their opening arguments rather than two.
BERMAN: All right, and, again, the opening arguments begin today. But, to an extent, we already heard the initial case laid out yesterday. And the major significant happenings, number one, Mitch McConnell backed down. Mitch McConnell backed down under pressure from Republicans in his own caucus as to the rules in this process, including, he will now allow the evidence gathered in the House impeachment process. So that happened before it even began yesterday.
And then late last night, or I should say early this morning, the wee hours of the morning, an extraordinary, dramatic moment. It came when the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, warned both sides to clean up their acts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the president's counsel, in equal terms, to remember that they are addressing the world's greatest deliberative body.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: You don't often hear from the chief justice. And I've got to say, it is extraordinary to see that moment play out at, what was it, 12:55 a.m.
CAMEROTA: He did not fall asleep throughout it. Some senators were caught napping at times.
BERMAN: I don't want to name names. Jim Risch of Idaho. CAMEROTA: But he stayed fresh.
CAMEROTA: All right, joining us now, CNN political analyst Maggie Haberman, she's a White House correspondent for "The New York Times," and CNN political commentator Paul Begala, he's a Democratic strategist who served in the Clinton White House during that impeachment trial.
Great to have both of you.
Let's start at the beginning, Paul, with what happened with Mitch McConnell retreating on some of his rules after many senators objected. It wasn't just Susan Collins. It wasn't just the people that we were keeping our eyes on. They didn't like that he was cramming it all into two days and they didn't like that whatever the House did, all of those -- that witness testimony wasn't going to be entered automatically into evidence.
What does it tell you that Mitch McConnell changed?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: McConnell is, I think, a master tactician, but it looks like he slipped there. And it may be that his grip is not quite as tight as we had thought. You know, it was untenable, we saw last night, to try to keep the senators at the world's greatest assisted living facility awake until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. And so it's a little bit -- but then he went on to win 11 votes in a row. So I -- the key thing for these Republican senators, the most important thing for Mitch McConnell should be -- I think is -- protecting his vulnerable Republican senators. He has now put every one of those vulnerable Republican senators on record voting against witnesses in a trial. That is going to hurt those who are running in November.
BERMAN: I have to say, Chief Justice John Roberts would admonish you for your quip about the assisted living center.
Maggie, I thought it was interesting, the whole thing was interesting, and it got more and more so as the night went on. But Adam Schiff, who, again, we saw his prowess as a litigator, speaking for long periods of time without notes, around midnight laid out what I think is the Democrats' basic case here, and I think we're going to hear it again today.
So listen to what Adam Schiff said right around midnight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): There's a reason why we're here at five till midnight, and that's because they don't want the American people to see what's going on here. They're hoping people are asleep. You know, a lot of people are asleep right now all over the country because it's midnight. Now, maybe in my state of California, people are still awake and
watching. But is this really what we should be doing when we're deciding the fate of a presidency? We should be doing this in the midnight hour?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Now, I don't mean to take this literally, Maggie, as a debate about time, but more metaphorically so where the Democrats are making the case that the Republicans and the administration are trying to hide things. And I think the Democrats made that case yesterday. And I know the opening arguments aren't until today. But I expect that will be part of the Democrats' arguments each and every day going forward here.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's right, John, and I think it's impossible for it not to be. The mere facts are that the White House has blocked witnesses over and over again. The mere facts are that McConnell has made clear he doesn't want to see witnesses. And, you know, the two issues where Democrats are pointing to this taking place under cover of darkness, yes, it was literal time, but Schiff was obviously using some metaphors there. I mean one is about the timing of this, which is that it's taking place at hours where people are not watching, either because it's during work hours, right in this middle of the day, or because it's late at night. And then the fact that there are all of these people who are material to this issue who have not been heard from.
In one case, John Bolton, has made clear he would comply with a Senate subpoena. Of course the House did not subpoena him so they don't know what he would have done there had they efforted it. But that is going to be what Democrats are going to focus on over and over again. They're going to say, you're right, there are holes. You're right, there are things we don't know. You're right, the witnesses, you know, were only second hand witnesses for the most part because those were the only one who were made -- either decided could go or decided to ignore instructions not to go. And I think that's going to be the crux of what Democrats say.
CAMEROTA: It wasn't just Adam Schiff, I thought, that did a masterful job at speaking extemporaneously without notes. I mean I thought that they -- they -- so many of them were on their game.
I mean, as you know, I can't string a sentence together without a teleprompter, but I don't -- and I don't know how -- I literally was looking for the prompter in the Senate --
BERMAN: Stay classy.
CAMEROTA: In this Senate chamber. Like, are they looking at something right now?
So, but, Paul, I know that your impression was that Adam Schiff and team ran circles around the Trump defense team. Is that just your partisanship talking or what's your evidence? BEGALA: It could be and so I mean I need people who are more objective to check me. But I sat there in 1999, I was working for President Clinton, and I looked at our lawyers and it looked like a murderers' row. We had Chuck Ruff, we had Greg Craig, we had Cheryl Mills, we had Nicole Seligman. We had terrific lawyers. And I thought the House managers back then were kind of -- some of them were very able lawyers, Asa Hutchinson, now governor of Arkansas, Lindsey Graham, now a Senator, but a lot of them were kind of mediocre.
Yesterday, I did think, not only were the Democrats talented rhetorically and legally, they came ready to present their case. They had a case. And the case they're alleging is that the president has to be removed right away because he abused his national security power to solicit a bribe to help himself politically.
The Republicans seem to have no case. They seem very angry. Mr. Cipollone may be a terrific lawyer, but he is one angry dude. And I didn't think that came over very well on television because he kept saying not, gee, my client is innocent, the president shouldn't be removed for this, but Adam Schiff's a bad guy, Jerry Nadler's a bad guy. It was all about grievance and anger, which is, I guess, the -- the Trump metea (ph). I guess you recruit your lawyers from the Fox News green room, you're going to get Fox News talking points.
BERMAN: Maggie, do we have any reporting yet on how much the president watched? I know he says he saw some of it from overseas. Because I did keep wondering, as it was developing over the course of the day, if this was really what the president wanted and the type of TV trial that he imagines, his reality show, because it wasn't -- it wasn't like "Law & Order." I mean Pat Cipollone, Philbin, those guys weren't like the TV lawyers the president might be used to seeing.
HABERMAN: Right. Look, I think that the opening -- the openers here that we have heard in terms of the votes yesterday weren't actually in general what the president was imagining because if this goes forward, there's going to be arguments and it's going to look a little bit different I think that we saw the crux of the cases yesterday, but it's not going to be exactly the same.
Look, I don't know how the president reacted to it. He made clear in Davos that he had watched some of it, but he had not really spoken to anybody back home last night by the time this all concluded. So we're going to know in the coming days whether he was pleased or not.
But, I mean, at the end of the day, it sort of doesn't matter, John. I mean I was thinking about this as Paul was talking. Paul was talking about the quality of the arguments. I guess my question is, who he thinks -- who you think, Paul, the undecided senators are who this is playing to?
I'm not convinced that Mitch McConnell's move on how the hours of presentation are taking place, whether it was over two days or three days, was a sign of him cracking. I think that's always where he was going to end up so that he could say this was something he was giving Democrats. And it's very possible that he didn't quite have a grip on his caucus, or it's possible that this is what he was going to do all along, and I just don't know.
BEGALA: That may be. I think, Maggie, you make a good point.
I do know this. I've written a lot of talking points in my life. And I know, first off, the Senate's not going to remove the president, right? I -- spoiler alert.
HABERMAN: Right. And that's sort of my point, right?
HABERMAN: It's not even clear that they're going to -- it's not even clear that they're going to affirm the House articles, so --
BEGALA: And so -- so the question is, whose argument to the public --
BEGALA: Is going to win? And the Republicans' argument is one word, should be, should be, it was my argument for Clinton, one word, vindication. The Democrats' argument is one word, cover-up. OK, yesterday I think cover-up was a much stronger argument. They didn't even pretend that they were -- on the president's side, that they were trying to vindicate him.
BERMAN: Maggie, I will say that I had that same notion, whether this was some grand McConnell conspiracy where he internationally came in with a maximalist position then retreated. I got some pushback, direct pushback, from people who knew McConnell's thinking on this. They say no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Whether you believe that or not is up to you. But I did ask that --
HABERMAN: I just want to inject it as a possibility into the conversation.
HABERMAN: Because I'm not really sure that it's a harbinger of what else we will see. It might be. Is it possible that there are people who are more willing to hear from witnesses than they have indicated? It's entirely possible. But we also saw McConnell, you know, get, what was it, 11 in a row, party line votes last night. So, so far I'm not clear that there's a lot of -- a lot of cracking there.
BEGALA: But he is making those folks walk the plank. I mean I --
HABERMAN: Yes, he is.
BEGALA: When I went to law school they taught me a trial was a search for the truth based on facts, evidence, documents, and witnesses. And if he is making Susan Collins, Cory Gardner, Martha McSally, Thom Tillis, all these vulnerable Republicans who Democrats have in the crosshair, who mike Bloomberg now is apparently going to run ads attacking on this matter, he's making them walk the plank --
HABERMAN: No question.
BEGALA: Not on acquittal. That's fine. They're going to have to vote to acquit.
HABERMAN: No question.
BEGALA: But on the question of whether you even have evidence and witnesses and documents in a trial, I just think that's untenable politically.
BERMAN: I will say --
HABERMAN: It's true.
BERMAN: I will say it did seem to me that Democrats were treating yesterday -- and I expect they'll treat today -- as if this is it, as if there won't be witnesses. They seem to be laying it all out there as quickly as they can.
HABERMAN: I think that's right.
CAMEROTA: But let's talk about witnesses, because, obviously, that's still an open question.
There is some talk -- a little bit of reporting as though maybe there's some talk of a trade and maybe the Democrats would be willing to give up Hunter Biden if they got Mick Mulvaney or they got John Bolton. So Adam Schiff addressed that very thing on the floor.
So listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): What can Hunter Biden tell us about why the president withheld hundreds of millions of dollars from Ukraine? I can tell you what he can tell us. Nothing.
This isn't like fantasy football here. We're not making trades, or we shouldn't be. We'll trade you one completely irrelevant, immaterial witness that allows us to smear the president's opponent, in exchange for ones that are really relevant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Paul, what'd you think of that argument?
BEGALA: I think he's absolutely right. The notion -- the president's whole goal in this was to smear Joe Biden through his son Hunter, who had controversial business dealings in Ukraine. When you -- with the Democrats -- if the Democrats give in on that and torment this man to no probative value, I'm sorry to sound like a lawyer, but that's the question with a witness, is there probative value in her testimony or his testimony? Nobody believes, and the president's team does not allege, that Hunter Biden knows something about why Donald Trump withheld aid from Ukraine, right? I think the Democrats -- by the way, Maggie and I were talking about this before we came on -- I think they're wrong to focus so much on John Bolton. I'm much more interested -- who was apparently a critic of this deal. I'd rather hear from the people who executed the deal, Mick Mulvaney most importantly, the acting White House chief of staff, who also used to run the Budget Office, other budget official who actually carried out the president's scheme. I think that's where the Democrats ought to hone in. And I would not trade anything for anything. They should simply try to pursue the truth.
BERMAN: Well, I just want to say, CNN's reporting -- "The Washington Post" is the one reporting the idea of this deal being floated out there. And Chris Coons is quoted in that piece --
HABERMAN: I was going to say, we walked it back pretty far on Twitter last night.
HABERMAN: He was very clear about it. I don't -- I don't think that Democrats are eager to jump on that for the -- broadly for the reasons Paul said, it's hard to see what Hunter Biden actually -- I understand why the president's lawyers want to have him there, but it's not clear what light he can shed at all on what Mick Mulvaney was doing, what national security officials were doing, what was happening at DOD, what the president's thinking was. This is a case about the presidency.
And, again, I understand why they're going to seek to muddy the waters. And people can think that Hunter Biden's work was controversial in Ukraine and still not understand why he would need to be called here.
BERMAN: And, just to be clear, we have Chris Coons on later in the show. We'll ask him directly.
But CNN's reporting on this is just what Maggie said, that there's really no momentum at this point that we can see for anything like that.
Maggie Haberman and Paul Begala, it is a pleasure to speak with both of you in the morning. Thanks for being with us.
HABERMAN: Thanks, guys.
BERMAN: Overnight, the White House Budget Office released hundreds of redacted documents about the freezing of Ukraine aid. Let me say that again. there are new documents just being released now. There are answers out there to a lot of the questions being asked. There is evidence that pertains to these questions being asked. What do these documents say? We'll tell you, next.
BERMAN: Developing overnight, newly released documents reveal officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget show that they were laying the ground work to freeze Ukraine military aid the night before the phone call in July between President Trump and the Ukrainian leader.
CNN's Laura Jarrett, co-anchor of "EARLY START," joins us now with more.
Again, Laura, this is new evidence. This is the type of thing that people have been looking for when making the case against the president.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN "EARLY START" ANCHOR: And this comes out at the exact same time that senators are debating about getting more documents and access to witnesses.
So, OMB, the Office of Management and Budget, released a trove of nearly 200 pages of documents just before midnight in response to a lawsuit filed by the transparency group American Oversight. The documents feature a heavily redacted series of e-mails from the night before that key phone call on July 25th where President Trump repeatedly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals, as military aid is hanging in the balance. The documents include a Ukraine prep memo sent to OMB's associate director of national security programs, Michael Duffey. The memo itself is completely redacted but in the body of the e-mail, OMB official Paul Denaro (ph) writes, we will be standing by to answer any questions that you have and are happy to schedule time to discuss if you would like.
Now, remember, Duffey is a key witness who Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to testify during the impeachment trial of President Trump.
Also on the evening of July 24th, the General Counsel's Office sent a footnote, which was the technical device officials at OMB used to freeze the military aid. At 9:00 a.m. on July 25th, minutes before the phone call between Trump and Zelensky, Duffey asked OMB official Mark Sandy (ph) about that footnote. Sandy replied, it was sent the previous night and then adds, please copy me on the e-mail to DOD. This seems to reference the e-mail that Duffey sent to the Department of Defense 90 minutes after the president's phone call with Zelensky concluded, informing the department that there would be, in fact, a freeze on the aid to Ukraine.
BERMAN: Also in these exchanges were some questions from members of Congress, yes?
JARRETT: Yes. So I think this is one of the more fascinating parts of what we saw last night. So multiple Republicans had actually inquired to OMB about the status of the aid. An aide to Senator Rob Portman sent a sternly worded e-mail to an OMB official inquiring back in August about the reasoning behind the freeze. The senator even reaching out directly to President Trump urging him to release the aid.
There are also e-mails from the chief of staff for Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry where he asks, quote, I heard today that OMB has put a pause on expending funds authorized for Ukraine security assistance. Is there someone that I can talk to, to understand why?
Republican Senator Jim Inhofe and Congressman Paul Cook also appeared to have some questions, with Cook asking Acting OMB Director Mick Mulvaney about the decision to freeze the aid in a letter.
So, of course, this just adds to the questions about why can't we get access to these documents? Why can't senators get access to them. And what else is out there?
CAMEROTA: This is what they look like. I mean we tried to read them this morning.
JARRETT: We tried to read between the lines.
BERMAN: Put a candle underneath it.
CAMEROTA: This -- yes. Exactly. And I still can't see. But I'm much more interested in what they -- the e-mails that were exchanged on the day that it was lifted because that day begins with Michael Duffey not knowing it's going to be lifted. And then you see this e-mail scramble that shows this very haphazard, disorganized nature of going back and forth between the OMB and people not knowing, is it going to be lifted, is it not going to be lifted, why is it being lifted, what -- why is this happening. And then it turns out that's after the controversy broke and they had to do it quickly.
JARRETT: Yes, after the whistleblower complaint's out. So, to be continued.
CAMEROTA: OK, thank you very much, Laura.
BERMAN: Great to have you here, Laura.
JARRETT: Thanks, guys.
CAMEROTA: All right, with just a week and a half to go before the first votes of the 2020 race, we have a new, national poll that shows one candidate making big moves.
Plus, what Hillary Clinton is saying now about Bernie Sanders.
CAMEROTA: A new CNN national poll out just this morning shows Senator Bernie Sanders at the top of the Democratic field. Twenty-seven percent of voters now support Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden is at 24 percent, followed by Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. Sanders is up 11 points since CNN's poll in October. Biden is down 10
Joining us now is CNN political commentator Karen Finney. She's the former senior spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign, and Krystal Ball, she supported Bernie Sanders in 2016, but has not yet endorsed him for 2020.
Great to have both of you.
Krystal, because you supported him in 2016, are you surprised by this movement that Bernie Sanders is showing in this latest poll? And what do you think it is that's resonating so much?
KRYSTAL BALL, CO-HOST, "RISING" ON HILL TV: Yes, I'm not particularly surprised because if you look at the numbers throughout this campaign, he's consistently been the most popular candidate in terms of favorability, obviously has this massive grassroots base, the most fundraising numbers. And if you ask voters, not just in this poll, but consistently across polls who they trust most on the issues that matter most to them, Bernie Sanders comes out on top. So, honestly, I think if there hadn't been this relentless narrative against him for years that he was unelectable, he would be running away with this thing.
I also think that the Warren attack on him, trying to smear him as a secret sexist or whatever she was trying to say about him completely backfired and he appeared above the fray. He also appears above the fray as Biden tries to attack him and wrongly accuses him of putting out a doctored video. All of those things have only served ultimately to strengthen him.
CAMEROTA: And so, Karen, I know that -- I think it's fair to say that you may have some residual resentment towards Senator Sanders based on how he and some of his surrogates conducted themselves in 2016.
So what do you think when you hear Krystal's argument?
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I disagree that he's been wildly popular and wildly maligned for so many years.
Look, this is politics. Bernie Sanders is a politician. That's fine. I just want us to be honest about that.
But, look, more importantly, what I think we're seeing in these numbers is something -- to what Krystal said, he has a very strong, enthusiastic base. So it's not surprising to me that as we get closer to the Iowa caucus, and no doubt from 2016 he and his team are very clear about what they need to do to win the caucus, because Hillary won last time.
[07:30:02] They've got that experience, so they know what they need to do in terms of the ground game.
And I think, you know, the other piece of this is, Senator Sanders really --