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Coronavirus Reaches U.S.; Weinstein Trial Begins; Sanders and Biden Lead Democratic Field; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) is Interviewed about the Impeachment Trial. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 22, 2020 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00]

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: we've seen this story before, as you know, Alisyn, were viruses start in certain parts of the world and then spread. You know, with SARS it was in nearly two dozen countries at one point. So that's happening here. And, again, that's not unexpected. We knew that.

We also know that there is what's called an incubation period, Alisyn. That means a period of time after the person becomes infected, but before they develop symptoms. So this gentleman, for example, he visited Wuhan, China. It's a city of 11 million people. People think maybe it's this tiny little city in central China, 11 million, so it's bigger than Manhattan.

And he traveled from there to Seattle and was healthy apparently on the flight. The next day, on January 16th, he became ill. January 19th, he went to go get medical care. And by the 20th, he was diagnosed. So the diagnosis was very rapid. And that's, obviously, important.

Right now he's in isolation, mainly because they -- we still don't know just how contagious this is. The story hasn't even been a month old. So scientists are still sort of figuring out just how contagious this is. He appears to be doing well, but is in isolation for the time being.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And so for all of our U.S. viewers, what does it mean that there's now a case here?

GUPTA: I -- this is not surprising. We knew, given that this virus was spreading in a very big city in China, a very populated city, that this was going to move around the world.

I think the big question -- there's really two questions. One is, obviously, are there a lot of people out there infected and just very few deaths? That would be, obviously, a better case scenario to say that, look, you know, if it's hundreds and hundreds of cases and few deaths, that this is not going to be particularly deadly, you know, in any country where people actually end up. Or is it something that's going to get more virulent, more deadly over time? We don't know the answer to that. We do know from SARS and MERS, which were similar coronaviruses, the

numbers in the end. With SARS, for example, 8,000 people became infected around the world, 800 people died. We don't know yet, Alisyn, very early on. You can see the numbers for MERS there and SARS. We don't know yet exactly what this is going to be. Hopefully very low fatalities, even with lots of people infected, which there probably will be.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I fear that we will be speaking to you about this again.

GUPTA: We'll be here.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much for this update.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, opening statements begin in the sexual assault case against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. At least 100 women have publicly accused Weinstein of misconduct. But the allegations he faces at trial are based off the accounts of two women and could put him away for the rest of his life.

CNN's Jean Casarez has been covering this story from the very beginning, joins us live outside the courthouse here in New York.

What can we expect, Jean?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, opening statements will be in one hour. And then it is on to witness testimony.

As you said, there are two accusers in this case. One is alleging that she was violently raped by Harvey Weinstein in 2013 in a hotel room right here in New York City. The other accuser is saying that she was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein in 2006 in his apartment right here in Manhattan.

Now, the defense is saying that they have e-mail after e-mail after e- mail, dozens of them, that are sent by the accusers to Harvey Weinstein after the dates of the alleged assaults showing these associations were relationships and they were consensual. But three other women are going to testify in this case, one saying she was raped by Harvey Weinstein, the other two saying they were violently sexually assaulted by him. They will be pattern witnesses to show a pattern of conduct by Harvey Weinstein.

And, finally, former HBO actress Annabella Sciorra will testify for the prosecution to help prove predatory sexual assault. That she was violently raped by Harvey Weinstein in the winter of 1993, 1994.

Now, we expect the defense to be very, very aggressive in all of this because the stakes are high. The charges are too counts of predatory sexual assault, life in prison is the maximum, one count of rape in the first degree, rape in the third degree and criminal sexual act in the first degree. And, Alisyn, it only takes one juror to believe this was consensual. There will not be a conviction.

CAMEROTA: Jean Casarez, thank you very much for the update outside the courthouse.

Well, a new CNN national poll shows movement among the top Democratic candidates. We'll get "The Bottom Line," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[8:38:40]

BERMAN: We have a brand-new poll out this morning on the state of the 2020 race. Less than two weeks to go before Iowa.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political director David Chalian.

This is a national poll, David, and it shows really a new look at the field. Go ahead.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, it shows real movement. Bernie Sanders has surged into top tier contention here with Joe Biden.

Take a look at this, 27 percent Bernie Sanders. This is among Democrats, Democratic leaning independents, as you said, a national poll, John, 24 percent for Joe Biden. They're in a league of their own. And this is the first time in the entirety of the polling that we've seen on this race from CNN that Joe Biden doesn't have that leader status all to himself at the top of the pack.

Take a look just where they've come in the last several months and you'll see Sanders' growth here. He is at 27 percent now. He was at 20 percent in December, 17 percent, 16 percent. you see him steadily climbing there. Joe Biden going the other direction. But they are -- they are right there at the head of the pack right now in this race.

CAMEROTA: I mean that -- I think that's a big story. I think it is a big story that Bernie Sanders is resonating that much that he keeps leapfrogging the rest of the pack.

But then you get to findings in the poll about electability and those tell a different story.

CHALIAN: Well, they tell, I think, why Joe Biden is still right up there, right? I mean 57 percent of Democrats in this poll say that a nominee that can defeat Donald Trump is more important than a nominee who shares their position on the issues.

[08:40:10]

I think only 35 percent say the latter. And then when they're asked, well, who of all these Democrats do you think can beat Donald Trump, Joe Biden wins that going away still. They see him, 45 percent do, a plurality in this poll, of having the best chance to beat Trump. That's true of 24 percent say so of Sanders, 8 percent of Warren, 7 percent of Bloomberg. BERMAN: If I can shift to what we've been seeing on the Senate floor

and the impeachment trial, David. And the opening arguments, the official opening argument are in a few hours. I have to say, yesterday, to me, was the opening of the trial and the opening arguments. It's hard for me to distinguish between the case that was made yesterday and the case we'll hear today.

CHALIAN: Right.

BERMAN: Tom Friedman in "The New York Times" wrote an interesting column today where he says the Democrats can succeed here. And he's not talking about removing the president from office, but they can succeed here if they keep it simple. And by keeping it simple, Friedman suggests, that all they should focus on over the next few days is the idea of a cover-up, is the idea that the Republicans and the president don't want this information out there.

And it does seem that that's where the impeachment managers, the House managers are headed here.

CHALIAN: Well, I mean wasn't that exactly what Jerry Nadler was saying to the Senate when Chief Justice Roberts admonished both sides about the way in which they were addressing the Senate.

Listen, I think we've seen this poll tested language from the Democrats for several weeks now, right? Cover-up, fair trial. Cover- up, fair trial. That's -- and I'm sure we'll hear that again from Chuck Schumer this morning. So I think there's no doubt that they think they have political rhetoric here that is simple and can make the case of what they're fighting for.

I think that is a separate and apart necessarily from what kind of real political impact this will have. John, in our poll, we asked people, do you think this impeachment trial is going to help Donald Trump get re-elected, hurt Donald Trump's re-election chances or have no effect on your position on the election whatsoever? And the plurality, 45 percent say no difference in their -- in the impact on Donald Trump's 2020 chances. That's where the plurality is right now.

And, remember, this is January. You know voters are rather complicated lives, right, human beings that are very busy throughout. The fact that their head space is going to be in November what it is right now I think is a stretch.

BERMAN: Can I say, though, that number, fewer people think it will help the president now than it did before, correct?

CHALIAN: That is correct.

BERMAN: There's been some movement in the idea of will it help the president.

And this gets to how successful sometimes Republicans and allies of the president are in making an argument. I think they beat into the consciousness that, oh, my God, this is a giant loser for Democrats and all these Democrats are in jeopardy for pushing impeachment. The polls just don't reflect that.

CHALIAN: There's no evidence of that.

BERMAN: At all.

CHALIAN: Whatsoever.

BERMAN: At all.

CHALIAN: Yes. Correct.

BERMAN: And I do think it's worth reminding people when you hear arguments, and for some reason Republicans make it sound like they're concerned for Democrats' electoral chances, there's just no proof of that right now.

CHALIAN: Right. That comparison to '98 and what happened to Republicans there, I think a lot of people started talking about that, that it was sort of a political loser for Gingrich and the Republicans at that point to impeach. That is not what we're seeing here in the polls right now.

CAMEROTA: That is really interesting.

David Chalian, thank you very much for crunching all the numbers with us.

CHALIAN: Sure.

BERMAN: David's the best.

CAMEROTA: He is and I can't argue that.

BERMAN: I mean you're good too.

CAMEROTA: I know.

BERMAN: You're good too.

CAMEROTA: I was about to make a case for myself, but then I just went with David.

BERMAN: It wasn't a comment about you.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I know. I know.

BERMAN: But I really like David.

CAMEROTA: I Know.

BERMAN: All right, we are about to hear the opening arguments in the impeachment trial against President Trump. We will be joined by one of the senators who was there for the marathon session yesterday. And also a senator who's got himself in the news today for comments he made in one of the newspapers.

Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:47:53]

BERMAN: We are just a few hours away from the opening arguments in the impeachment trial of President Trump. One of the people who will be in the room again today, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. The Democrat joins us right now.

Senator, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Thank you so much for being with us this morning.

Look, Democrats went zero for 13 yesterday, I believe it was, didn't win on a single vote. So what do you think you got out of that first day?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Ah, well, John, yesterday was a 12-hour day in which the entire Senate sat and fought over what the rules will be that will govern this impeachment trial and whether we're going to get access to any of the documents or witnesses that would be essential to making this a fair trial. And, strikingly, on every single vote, except one, every single Republican, except one, voted to keep the rules that Mitch McConnell moved forward and it was only on one minor vote that one Republican voted against the majority.

So I'll put it this way, in virtual lockstep throughout the entire night, the Republican majority said we don't want to see the documents that are critical to understanding what President Trump did, whether or not he did or didn't do the things he's charged with, and we don't want to hear from critical witnesses that President Trump has blocked from testifying. It was a pretty striking, pretty grim, frankly, and very long night, but I think it was important that we got on the record for history and for the American people who are watching that the Republican majority here is just not interested in seeing the relevant documents or hearing from a few key witnesses.

BERMAN: The actual votes were on voting to hear witnesses and get that evidence now.

COONS: That's right. That's right.

BERMAN: Susan Collins and Mitt Romney will tell you, and do tell us, that they want that vote to happen and it is in the rules that vote will happen after the opening arguments.

Now you, Senator, are --

COONS: But, John -- but, John --

BERMAN: Go ahead.

COONS: John, hang on, hang on, I'm just -- I'm not going to let that go.

BERMAN: OK. COONS: This isn't opening arguments. This is a trial. A trial where

those documents and those witnesses have never been made available.

[08:50:01]

So as a lawyer myself, how are you supposes to make opening arguments when critical witnesses and central documents have been blocked by the president? And -- first.

Second, there's no guarantee that vote will happen. My expectation, and certainly the expectation of many of my colleagues in my caucus, is that after the House managers present the case that they can put forward, there will be a motion to dismiss to end the trial. That's certainly what the president wants. That's certainly what his lawyers are arguing for. I doubt whether we will ever see or hear from those witnesses except in the future when they come out --

BERMAN: OK.

COONS: Either through FOIA requests or through books that folks like Ambassador Bolton may publish.

BERMAN: And I will (INAUDIBLE), in a normal trial you get the witnesses and evidence first. There's just no question about that.

COONS: First, right.

BERMAN: This isn't a normal trial.

You have been in the unique position of having worked with Republicans before and striking deals in very sensitive moments.

COONS: A lot.

BERMAN: Do you see -- it doesn't sound like you do -- what chances are there that you will have four Republicans, when push comes to shove, voting with Democrats to hear from witnesses?

COONS: Well, that's hard to tell. I certainly wasn't encouraged by last night. And there was some mistaken reporting in another news outlet that suggested somehow I was part of a group that was trying to cut some deal where Ambassador Bolton, former national security adviser, would testify in exchange for the vice president, Joe Biden, the former vice president, testifying. I'm not involved in a conversation like that. That would mean trading a relevant witness who should be testifying for a witness who has nothing to do with the charges against the president.

In a trial, what is admitted in front of the jury is relevant documents and relevant witness testimony. John Bolton was in the room. He was in the meetings. He was on the e-mail thread. He certainly knows whether the president did or didn't do the things he's accused of.

And if President Trump hopes to be exonerated here in the Senate, as he keeps saying, he should make a case, like the presidents who have been impeached before him, President Clinton, even President Nixon. He should encourage his top advisers to cooperate and to testify if he hopes to clear his name.

BERMAN: You were talking about "The Washington Post" article, which came out late yesterday --

COONS: Yes.

BERMAN: And suggested there is this movement inside the Democratic caucus maybe to trade John Bolton's testimony for one of the Bidens' testimony. The CNN reporting is there doesn't appear to be that movement. You are pushing back on it.

COONS: Correct.

BERMAN: But let me read you a direct quote from you that is in that article. You say, if you want to give Joe Biden an opportunity to sit in the well of the Senate and answer the question, do you think the president acted appropriately, go right ahead. I can't imagine a person more comfortable in the well of the Senate than a man who spent 36 years here as a United States senator.

So you're saying now that, go right ahead isn't saying you want to see this happen?

COONS: That's in response to a question, if I remember correctly, John, that was essentially, are you concerned about Joe Biden? Do you think he should be afraid of being called to testify? And my response essentially was, if you want to give Joe Biden the opportunity on national television from the well of the Senate to explain why in his view President Trump and his actions in Ukraine were inappropriate, why, go right ahead. It was meant more as a joking response than as a serious and determined effort to get him to testify.

Joe Biden is not relevant to what's in front of us as a jury. What the president's been charged with is withholding vitally needed military aid to a vulnerable ally, Ukraine, in exchange for their commitment to start an investigation, digging up dirt on his political opponent.

BERMAN: Let me --

COONS: So the questions we need to know more about is, what did President Trump order others to do? Why did he do it? Joe Biden won't know anything about that. He wasn't in the White House. He doesn't work for this president. He wasn't involved in those conversations. He's not a relevant witness.

BERMAN: All right.

What was it like when the chief justice of the United States admonished both sides for some of the language and rhetoric they were using in the arguments last night? What did you take from that? And do you think he was right to do it?

COONS: Yes, I think he was right to do it. I'm from Delaware, and our courts are known for their civility. And I was struck, as the evening unfolded, at the tenor of the arguments being made. Frankly, several of the folks who were making arguments in the chamber took a very aggressive tone. And I'm not going to characterize particular individuals. I'll simply say that I thought it was completely appropriate for the chief justice to remind some of the advocates that in their advocacy they were using language and terminology about each other, about the Senate, about some of the issues in front of us that was trending towards the personal and the sharp and the partisan.

The tone in the Senate has always been and tries to remain measured and civil, even in this most divided time.

[08:55:02]

John, that's what makes it possible for us to continue trying to work together even when we are so divided.

BERMAN: House managers as well, did you think they went too far, any of them?

COONS: Well, I think it was appropriate for the chief justice to admonish both sides at the moment when he did.

BERMAN: Senator Chris Coons from Delaware, thank you for being with us today on short sleep. Good luck today staying quiet.

COONS: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Something you and I could never do.

BERMAN: Never.

CAMEROTA: "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto starts --

BERMAN: Now.

CAMEROTA: Right now.

BERMAN: That's it. I think it doesn't start now. I think we're going to take a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It is the top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Sciutto.

Day two. We are now just hours away from the opening arguments in the president's impeachment trial.

[09:00:02]

This after a fiery debate that stretched into the early morning hours. The rules now set. Democrats failing in each of their repeated attempts to subpoena --