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Soon: Democrats Make Opening Argument In Case Against Donald Trump; Donald Trump's Legal Team Blasted For False Claims On Floor; House Managers Begin 3 Days Of Opening Arguments; Soon: Opening Arguments Begin In Trump Impeachment Trial; House Manager: Donald Trump Bragged About Obstruction When Saying "We Have All The Material" And Congress Doesn't. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired January 22, 2020 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer live here in Washington alongside Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper and Dana Bash. She is up on Capitol Hill. This is CNN's Special Live Coverage of Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump.

We're now just an hour away from the start of the day 2 of the trial. But before that we'll hear from the Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Each will take to the Senate floor to make comments about the trial about nearly 13 hour session yesterday and what happens next? We'll bring you that all live.

When they're done in today's trial, gavels into the session at the order of the Chief Justice John Roberts, will hear opening arguments from the House Managers prosecuting the case against President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. They will have 24 hours, a stretch across three days, to make their case.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Joining us now is Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of the State of Maryland. Welcome Senator, thanks so much for being with us. You proposed an amendment that would have allowed Chief Justice Roberts to rule on motions to subpoenas witnesses and documents and determine if they were likely to provide material evidence relevant to the articles of impeachment.

The Republicans defeated the measure. Do you plan to reintroduce the amendment? What you hope would accomplish? And if you could kind of explain to our viewers what it does in laymen's terms?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Yes. It is good to be with you, Jake and Wolf. This was an amendment last at night last amendment at about 1:30 am. But it was an amendment that was intended to make sure that we had impartial justice in the United States Senate.

What better way to make it impartial than to give the Chief Justice of the United States the responsibility of making the first ruling on requests for witnesses or documents, so either side could say to Chief Justice, here's the witness we want to call, whether it is John Bolton or Mick Mulvaney or one of the witnesses that Republican may want to call. And the Chief Justice would then look at whether or not that witness had relevant information to the articles and make a ruling. The Senate would still be able, by a majority vote to overrule it. But at least in the first instance we'd have an independent ruling from the Chief Justice just like trial judges in trials everyday across America make these important questions about what kind of important evidence should come in? Republicans showed that they did not want an impartial trial when they voted that down.

TAPPER: They voted that down. They voted down all the amendments in order to subpoena to get information and documents that so far have not been released to the House, the Senate or to the public. I want you to take a listen to President Trump, who weighed in about the impeachment trial earlier today. He said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They never thought we were going to release it. When we released that conversation, all hell broke out with the Democrats. They say wait a minute this is much different than shifty Schiff told us. So we're doing very well. I got to watch enough, I thought our team did a very good job. Honestly, we have all the material. They don't have the material.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: We have all the material, they don't have the material. What's your reaction to that, sir?

HOLLEN: Well, that was an obvious confession by the President of the United States that they're holding onto very sensitive information, material that will likely expose the President's wrongdoing, which is exactly why the President ordered his entire administration not to cooperate? And why they've not provided a single document in response to subpoenas? Why they've not allowed a single witness come forward, tried to block the White House witnesses?

And here, you have the President of the United States saying, hey, I have a lot more evidence and I'm not going to give it to you. The real question for Republican Senators is when they hear that kind of thing, are they really going to be co-conspirators with the President, in burying important evidence and information that we should have in order to have a fair trial.

BLITZER: Senator, "The Washington Post" is reporting that some Democrats are considering what's being described as a witness trade, John Bolton, for example, for other top officials, Hunter or Joe Biden or both. Is that the case? Are there these conversations going on behind the scenes?

HOLLEN: Wolf, I'm not aware of any active discussion like that. The whole purpose of the amendment I put forward last night essentially required the Chief Justice to rule in the first instance was to address exactly these kind of issues, right? Let's have an impartial individual make these decisions. This is the top judicial officer in the United States. He was nominated by a Republican President. If republicans want to call someone like a Hunter Biden - by the way, while individual Republicans may have talked about that, Mitch McConnell and the Republican Caucus have never said they want to do that. But if they wanted to make that case, they would say to the Chief Justice, here's why we want to call Hunter Biden?

[12:05:00]

HOLLEN: As Adam Schiff pointed out last night, Hunter Biden knows zero about the entire abuse of power scheme the President engaged in, but they can make that argument to the Chief Justice, just like the House Managers say to the Chief Justice, here's why we want Mick Mulvaney? Here is why we believe he would be a material witness?

That's how you address this in a fair and impartial manner if you're not trying to rig the trial or cover up the evidence.

BLITZER: What did you think of the President's legal team on the Senate floor yesterday?

HOLLEN: Well, their opening statements included incredible misrepresentation, some false statements. I will say the first thought that went through my mind when I heard them speaking was, we actually should be swearing in under oath, under penalty of perjury, the President's Counsel, and I'm sure the House Managers would be willing to agree.

The statements that came out of the White House Counsel's mouths early on were just totally untrue and misleading to the United States Senate. It sounded a lot more to me like they were at a Trump rally than a trial in the United States Senate. They're obviously speaking to an audience of one.

The big question is whether Republican Senators are responding to an audience of one or whether they're responding to their duty under the constitution of the United States and their duty to the American people for a fair trial.

TAPPER: Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it.

HOLLEN: Thank you.

TAPPER: Let's talk about all this. George, let get your reaction. Again we saw that clip from President Trump. He first suggests that Democrats when he actually revealed the rough transcript of that phone call with Zelensky, Democrats were disappointed in some way. My impression, Democrats were not disappointed, they were stunned that the President released it. And then the President went on to say we have all the materials, they don't have any materials.

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE ATTORNEY: The first was a lie is the flat out bald-faced lie. The transcript - not transcript - call memo matched up perfectly with what had been expected on the basis of what the whistleblower complaint said.

TAPPER: And in fact, the Director of National Intelligence even said that.

CONWAY: Right. And he said that this was a magic matter I think or what was the phrase in the law, urgent and concerned. Everyone was shocked by - he actually did this. He's rewriting history there and he is pretending that everybody else thought it was a perfect call. The only person who really thinks that is him and people who have been gas lit by him.

And in the second aspect is there every so often this pathological liar who is the President of the United States sometimes says something that's true. This was partially true in the sense that he's admitting there that his strategy is to keep the materials from coming up. It's not quite true they have all the materials.

The materials are seeping out. Some of the materials swore and raised their right hand and testified before the House. What's going to happen is that more material will keep coming out. This stuff, unless somebody is engaging in massive wiping of hard drives and burning documents, this stuff is going to be coming out for a long time.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: But if you're Adam Schiff and you're speaking today, aren't you going to use this?

CONWAY: Absolutely.

BORGER: In terms of talking about obstruction of Congress, honestly we have all the material, they don't have the material and say, give us the material, this is what we're asking for, the material, whatever that is.

CONWAY: The President is actually not a very smart man. What he did here, he's undercutting the arguments that he needs to make to keep the material from coming out.

BORGER: Exactly.

CONWAY: And he's not really - he's not able to think one step beyond what's coming out of his mouth at any given moment. He's just not that smart. That's what he did here. He's undercutting his own defense. He has no idea.

BLITZER: What do you think of this trade possibility, John Bolton for Hunter Biden?

CONWAY: I mean it is complete nonsense. I mean, the notion that - I'll say it right here. I think Hunter Biden. Let's impeach Hunter Biden we'll do that separately on a separate track. Hunter Biden, as Senator Van Hollen said, has no relevance to this trial.

It's not relevant whether or not Hunter Biden did anything wrong. What's relevant actually to the extent anything is relevant is the President's state of mind. Why did he ask, do us a favor? Why did he do that? And if he wrongly believed that Hunter Biden committed some great wrong that needed to be investigated, well, that's actually admissible evidence, but the person to testify about that is Donald J. Trump. BORGER: Or go to the FBI if you believe--

CONWAY: Well, he should - there should have gone - right. I mean, if this was a legitimate investigation, first of all, you wouldn't have been asking for an announcement, it would have been something that would have been done well before Joe Biden announced for the Presidency and you would have done it through official legitimate channels, which he didn't do.

[12:10:00]

TAPPER: So John, let me ask you. The very fact that Donald Trump, President Trump, just bragged, we have all the material, they don't have the material, while he's being impeached in part, for blocking Congress from getting material, material that every member of the House and Senate, whether they support the President or do not, knows is germane to what the President did or did not do?

Whether it is exculpatory or not, the very fact that he says that, how does a Republican Senator just ignore it? How does a Republican Senator just pretend that doesn't mean anything when he's in the middle of a trial and one of the reasons he's being tried is for blocking documents and he just bragged about that?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS: Well, one of the reasons Mitch McConnell does want to have this trial over as quickly as possible is just to this point so they don't keep getting asked these questions. The Democrats smartly played the clip I think at least twice yesterday of the President saying there is this thing called Article II, I can do whatever I want.

Well, that's not what Article II; he doesn't get to do anything he want. He gets to do a lot, the President has considerable power under the constitution but he doesn't get to do anything he wants. This is very consistent of the President. This is his view of his power. That's what this is about.

This is his view of his power. The question is and why today is so important. Democrats failed yesterday but they think they failed on the votes. They think they succeeded on planting the seeds. We will see. It's incumbent now on these House Managers when they get to the beginning of presenting their case and there will clearly be some redundancy. They did that in part yesterday on purpose bringing a lot of facts to their case in.

Can they convince these Republicans to vote differently next time? Can they convince enough Republicans to vote differently next time? Yesterday was a setback for Democrats it was a victory for Mitch McConnell. But it was also predictable and that we talked about this a little bit yesterday.

It's a tradition in Washington you support the leader on procedural votes. It is sort of you join the club that you're almost required to support the leader on procedural votes. It's a big deal to buck your leader out of the box. McConnell told them, I need your votes out of the box. Republicans have to control this trial to begin with. He can't lose

control on day one. He won yesterday. We'll see now are these Managers convincing enough? You're not going to get Rick Scott; you're not going to get Roy Blunt you're not going to get John Thune. Can you get Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and then where are we looking--

TAPPER: Mitt Romney.

KING: --Mitt Romney, Lamar Alexander, Cory Gardener look at that group.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Adding this unpredictable factor into this. We saw this happen of course in the impeachment hearings when he tweeted something about Marie Yovanovitch as she was testifying, and then you saw Adam Schiff fold that into the conversation and the hearing. And so here he is doing the same thing. The thinking was, get him as far away as possible send him overseas where he's with all of these business leaders. He can talk about his agenda and he was doing some of that but this is the President who can't help--

KING: Well, McConnell has asked him.

CONWAY: One of the reasons why they want this over as soon as possible.

KING: Right. McConnell has asked him, we have seen this in every big legislature. Not just this is an impeachment trial it is much bigger than any piece of legislation, but McConnell consistently asks him when there are important controversial things before the Senate, please stay quiet.

BORGER: But one of the things that we should also be paying attention to, and you started talking about this, is the Schumer strategy, which is - they were saying this lot yesterday, which is, there is no vindication for the President in a sham trial.

What Schumer is trying to do by holding all these votes, this is a cover-up, that's their words, this is a sham, and that therefore they can make the case to the American public when the President comes out and impeachment is not successful in the Senate.

The President comes out and says, I was vindicated, they can say, no, you weren't, because we didn't get the evidence and therefore it is a sham. That is what Schumer is trying to dig in here.

KING: And a very quick thing on Hunter Biden. If you don't like Joe Biden, you can certainly ask the question how did the Obama Administration let Joe Biden be in charge of the Ukraine portfolio when his son had that job. That is a fair question.

TAPPER: You can ask that even if you like to.

KING: You like that yes. If you can raise the question as conflict of interest, is that the right way to do business, that's fine? It's not germane to the issue of impeachment against the President now. I would just say this, and I've said it before, the Republicans were in charge of the House from 2013 to 2019. They were not shy about using their oversight authority. They were not.

The Republicans had been in charge of the Senate from 2015 until today. If they wanted to call Hunter Biden in for some oversight hearing, they had the right in the House for six years and they didn't do it and they have the right in the Senate right now.

TAPPER: That's because in order to defend the President's conduct, a lot of these individuals, since they are not willing to say, look, what the President did is wrong, I just don't think it's impeachable and I just don't think he should rise to the level. They are not willing to say that for whatever reason, they have to create this alternate reality.

(CROSSTALK)

[12:15:00]

TAPPER: It's truly concerned about corruption even though this is the only instance that we know off where he is ever asked about corruption even though in the transcript of the call, the rough transcript the word corruption does not come up. And you have to create this alternate reality and that is one other things we see from these Republican Senators.

CONWAY: And in the first call he was supposed to mention corruption either.

TAPPER: And he did not that came out in and of course he did not even raise that.

BLITZER: Those were in his talking points, which he ignored.

CONWAY: Right.

BLITZER: President Trump's impeachment trial is about to resume, day two. Democrats trying to make a case that the President of the United States is unfit for office, you're watching CNN's Special Live Coverage of the Impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Just a short time from now, the impeachment trial for President Trump is set to resume and House Managers are expected to begin their 24 hours of opening arguments. Jeffrey Toobin is back with me as is the rest of the team.

[12:20:00]

COOPER: What do you think the Republicans, the President's attorney, what is their strategy moving forward? Do you think they feel yesterday was good for them?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I think it was probably a status quo day. As in so much in American politics now, opinions are locked in. I don't think anything happened yesterday that to democratically changed things. But I think the President's argument is very clear.

And there are two points to it is, one is, the conduct that he's accused of, was perfectly appropriate, that there is no impeachable offense. That in part is a constitutional argument that this is not something that is a high crime and misdemeanor, it is also just a political argument that the President behaved appropriately. So that's one sort of group of arguments.

The other argument is that the House of Representatives didn't do its job that they conducted an unfair process, and they didn't collect all the evidence that they needed to collect, and should have gone to court and tried to get all the evidence, not asked the Senate to conduct their investigation for them. So it's a procedural argument and it is a substantive argument.

COOPER: We also just heard comments from the President were sort of echoing what Jeffrey is saying, and I just want to play that, because it is sort of stunning, his again a rewrite of what actually occurred. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They never thought we were going to release it. When we released that conversation, all hell broke out with the Democrats. Because they say, wait a minute, this is much different than shifty Schiff told us. So we're doing very well. I got to watch enough. I thought our team did a very good job. Honestly, we have all the material. They don't have the material.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: I mean, it's remarkable Laura just on several fronts, one, his rewriting of what happened after the transcript was released, that all hell broke loose among the Democrats because it was different than what Adam Schiff said, that was just not factual, and what obviously what he just said about we have all the material, bragging essentially about obstructing Congress.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. And of course that's why we're here in part because you have all the material. You are not providing it. They can't perform their oversight function as members of Congress to check this balance and balance the powers. So that is absolutely - you're right, Mr. President, you have it. Hand it over.

And so in many ways, it's almost as if he has missed the mark and not knows why he's here? Also the idea here the defense team, they are using this and capitalizing on this strategy I keep in my mind thinking about, "Leave the gun, Take the Cannoli", the reference "The Godfather," saying leave the evidence in plain sight because I already know that I tampered with it and you can't trace it back to me.

Well the defense team they're leaving in plain sight that they could not hand over any documents not provide any witnesses because they know they've tampered with ability of them to make a case. They're saying now it's insufficient and you can't make a good case for it why? You haven't give us what we need we already have the material.

So in many ways they are capitalizing on this notion of we are going to hold you to a standard that you are unable to meet and then we're going to make fun and taunt you about that. It doesn't make sense.

TOOBIN: May the first child be a masculine child. I just wanted - it has no relevance but it is a--

COATES: You got to get.

COOPER: Thank you.

TOOBIN: It's a "Godfather" and I'm sorry.

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: As somebody who represents lots of public officials, I think the mission for the Trump defense lawyers is number one they're in very good shape right now. The President, unless something radically changes, is not getting removed. Do no harm. That is mission one is do no harm.

Second is the President is going to be accused of whole bunch of things. It is going to be broadcast on TV. We're going to be talking about it. Make your case to the American people that's mission number two.

And then third is keep the boss calm, keep the boss calm, because if he's calm he is going to be less likely to go on TV and mess up rule number one, which is do no harm. I thought his comment just now was not a good one. You don't want to talk about how you've got all the evidence, all the key stuff and nobody else can see it. I think that's the mission of the Trump lawyers right now.

COOPER: So Tim, you have a thought on what the House Managers should be doing?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think the House Managers have two audiences. One is the American people and they really need to explain the American people why this matters to them? For a lot of Americans understand, we don't have time to think about policy towards Ukraine.

They have to explain that if the President of the United States uses his authority to try to extort someone abroad to get dirt on an American citizen he can do it at home. They have another audience. That audience is just as important and those are the swing Republicans.

[12:25:00]

NAFTALI: Senator Thune sort of gave away that what the Democrats did during most of yesterday actually was effective. When they went through document by document and explained what the American people needed to know, for the lawyers sitting in that chamber, they may not have changed their minds but they began to know new elements of the story.

Many of these Senators don't know the details. They need to treat these swing Republicans with respect. Even if it's naive they need to believe that there will be an open vote on witnesses and documents by the end of next week. Even if they don't believe it, they have to treat the Senators that way because listen, the Senators who will vote for witnesses, they need to be able to tell their constituents, I'm not a new Democrat. I'm not with the Democrats. I'm doing this for America. The Democrats have to make this a nonpartisan choice.

COOPER: I want to stand by. The House Managers speak any moment you see on the right hand side of your screen. A number of Senators, Senator Amy Klobuchar obviously running for President as well, she is coming. A lot of the Senators are arriving. You're watching our Special Coverage of the Impeachment Trial of President Trump. We'll be back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:30:00]