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Democratic House Managers Continue Case Against Trump; Interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on Schiff's Presentation to Senate; Trump's Defense Team Speaks as Democrats Give Opening Arguments. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 22, 2020 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: -- how much of the case that Schiff presented was merely running videotape of Trump and his administration officials saying things that are quite damning. Whether it was then candidate Trump calling for the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton's e-mails or President Trump talking about how Ukraine and China should launch investigations into the Bidens.

The acting White House chief of staff acknowledging a quid pro quo. Gordon Sondland one of the ambassadors whose part of the scandal acknowledging a quid pro quo, and on and on. It was just a very factually based argument, very long, two and a half hours, but really it didn't leave much to the imagination. I'd really like to hear what George Conway has to think about this presentation.

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE ATTORNEY: Well, I agree it was a remarkable presentation, leaving apart the stamina, the physical stamina that it took to deliver that for two hours and 25 minutes. It was a very coherent, cohesive narrative, something that the White House doesn't have.

The White House has scatter shot defenses that don't go to the merits of what Trump did, but that -- that narrative, that incredibly coherent and cohesive story, which was very fact-based weaved in as you say all the video, the damning admissions that the President made, and that Mulvaney made, and the evidence that was presented in the House Judiciary, I mean, excuse me, the House Intelligence Committee.

Weave that again all together with some kind of inspiring Constitutional and American -- general American history. And together with that explained what's at stake here. Even more importantly, what's at stake here is are we really going to allow -- are we really going to say that a President can do this, can act in his own interests using federal funds for an ally.

Are we really saying that from now on none of this matters? And is that the -- is that the what the framers intended? And he made a strong case that it wasn't.

TAPPER: George Conway, thank you so much. We're going to squeeze in a very quick break. We'll be right back with more coverage of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump. Stay with us. [15:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: During this brief recess in this trial, the opening arguments by the House managers, two and a half hours down, another 21 1/2 hours to go. The President's legal defense team, they've been meeting with reporters. Listen in to Jay Sekulow, his exchange with the reporters just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY SEKULOW, OUTSIDE LEGAL COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Just heard right here -- you heard from Adam Schiff basically saying that without witnesses this could not be a fair trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you respond to the Democrats saying without witnesses this can't be a fair trial?

SEKULOW: We just went through two and a half hours of laying out their case to go with the 11 hours of laying out their case last night. Now unless he's making it up, it seems like he's got a lot of information, so proceed with your case. I mean the more they do this two and a half hour events at a time, it undercuts their entire argument but you know what, that's going to be ultimately for the United States Senate to decide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President today in Davos said that basically we have all the materials as one way of defending the fact this is a challenging case for the Democrats. We have all the materials. Democrats say he's boasting that he's successfully obstructed Congress. How do you respond to that allegation?

SEKULOW: First of all, this idea -- I think what Jerry Nadler said last night, what'd he call it -- executive privilege and other nonsense. These are privileges recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States that come out of the United States Constitution. This isn't nonsense. This is really what the Constitution's about. So look, they're putting on their case. The good news is we only have 22 hours more to go of their side and we'll go. But let them put their case on and we'll continue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw a lot of heated --

SEKULOW: I can't hear you, I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there something you've heard today (INAUDIBLE).

SEKULOW: There's a lot of things I'd like to rebut and we will rebut. I mean I think we said it yesterday -- first of all, you noticed that Adam Schiff today talked about quid pro quo. Notice what's not in the articles of impeachment, allegations or accusations of quid pro quo. That's because they didn't exist, so you know, there's a lot of things we'll rebut, we'll do it in an orderly and I hope more systematic fashion. If you got to do it --one at a time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) take the whole 24 hours.

SEKULOW: I can't make any determinations as to how long our proceedings are going to go, we got to base it on what they do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And in terms of the President's mood -- are you updating --

SEKULOW: I'm not doing President's -- I don't do that, and I don't discuss conversations with the President --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did he say (INAUDIBLE) the House manager's case?

SEKULOW: I think he's on -- I have no idea. I think he's in Davos or on the way back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's on his way back.

SEKULOW: OK. Last question.

Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jay, how much of your presentation will be based on rebutting what you're hearing today and the next two days versus (INAUDIBLE) maybe two guys make?

[15:40:00]

SEKULOW: Well, look, I think it's a combination of both. I mean we're going to obviously we're going to -- we will challenge aggressively the case that they're putting forward based on what we're hearing, and we have an affirmative case that we're going to make as well. So we're going to do both. Thank you very much, everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That was the President's attorney Jay Sekulow talking to reporters just moments ago.

I want to go to Dana Bash who is at Congress right now on Capitol Hill with one of the 100 Senators in the chamber listening to this presentation. Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota who's also a Presidential candidate, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Jake, and thank you, Senator for being here. First just react to what you just heard from Jay Sekulow, particularly at the beginning when he was saying what Adam Schiff and the House managers are doing is undercutting the argument that they need more information by talking about how much information they have.

As a juror/judge, what's your sense?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My first simple reaction is you can't have a trial without witnesses and without evidence, and zero witnesses plus zero documents equals zero justice. I am really stunned at some my colleagues. I thought that the House

managers actually made a very compelling case today especially about the vulnerability of Ukraine, the national security interests. The fact that the President was actually putting our own democracies and our relationships at risk by withholding aid, by denying them a meeting while Russia watched every single thing that he did.

And I kept contrasting it in my mind with John McCain. Because one of the last trips he took was with me and Senator Graham to Ukraine. Because he wanted to show Russia right after President Trump got elected -- he wanted to show Russia, hey, we stand with Ukraine. We stand with our allies and Trump was doing the opposite. So I just kept looking at my colleagues thinking are you listening? This is wrong. We at least need to have the witnesses and the evidence.

BASH: Do you have a sense -- I know you have a lot of relationships across party lines. Do you have a sense that they are listening, particularly, you know, those Republicans who are potentially persuadable, maybe not on, you know, on convicting him but on witnesses?

KLOBUCHAR: I hope so. I certainly -- Senator Romney has said that he wants to hear from John Bolton.

BASH: Anything you can tell us about quiet conversations you're having even though you're not supposed to be talking, we know you're talking on the floor.

KLOBUCHAR: I mean people talk off the floor, too, and a number of them have said that they are open to witnesses, not many of them. And I just hope they do it. I thought the case that Adam Schiff made quoting Mick Mulvaney, who at one point said, yes, sure, there's political influence in foreign policy and then he said the words, get over it.

And I thought that Representative Schiff did this incredible job of saying get over it, really? Are we going to get over our democracy, where is this going to end us? And I think that the Republicans were listening to that.

BASH: So one of the arguments that Republicans have made really since the get-go and even more so now is that if the House Democrats really wanted to have a fulsome body of evidence, then they would have not rushed, in their words, through the House.

They would have taken the issue of executive privilege or just the fact that the White House was stonewalling to the courts and waited to try to get that information before bringing it to the Senate trial.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes, that's ironic to me because clearly the President could have allowed people to testify just like Richard Nixon did, just like many have in every single case there have been witnesses.

And then you match that with the irony and they're saying, oh, but you're doing it close to an election. Well, at some point this had to move forward, and he was continuing in his behavior as evidenced by when he said, hey, why doesn't China -- why don't you go get some information on one of my opponents.

This is the kind of behavior that's just been escalating.

BASH: I just have to ask you about what's going on inside the chamber, because the cameras can't see the Senators. There's a report that there are a lot of empty seats, particularly on the Republican side. You've been sitting there. You've been watching, have there been empty seats?

KLOBUCHAR: To defend them and our side, I didn't see that. I think it was a two and a half hour opening very well done, so you see people leave to go to the restroom, people maybe leave to drink a cup of coffee or something like that, and so they come back. Everyone's been coming back, and for the most part it is like 95 percent filled at any one time. So I just didn't see that.

BASH: OK, one last question, I know by law you can't campaign while we're standing here in the Capitol, but obviously a big part of the story line is you and three of your Senate colleagues being here and not on the campaign trail.

KLOBUCHAR: Exactly, I can answer your question.

BASH: There you go.

KLOBUCHAR: And that is as we speak, my daughter is out there in Iowa, and she's been texting me this morning and during the day. We just announced three more legislators endorsing me.

[15:45:00]

We have the most endorsements of Iowa legislators and farmers than anyone in the race. And to me that means they're in the rooms. They're at the grocery stores. They are completely committed to helping me and understand that the way politics work you've got to have people that are out there for you or you don't have a campaign.

And then finally the "New York Times" endorsement, the "Quad-City Times" Iowa Illinois paper that's been a big boost to me as well.

BASH: Thank you, Senator. Appreciate your time.

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Dana. Appreciate it.

BASH: Wolf and Jake, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Dana, thank you very much. Thank the Senator for us as well.

I want to go to Jeffrey Toobin, our chief legal analyst. He's been watching this very closely. So what did you think of the presentation by the lead House manager Adam Schiff?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I thought it was dazzling. I thought the way he wove through both the facts of the case and the historical context was really remarkable. It was the second-best courtroom address, since it's like a courtroom,

that I ever heard after a prosecutor named Jonathan Benedict in the Michael Skakel case in Connecticut was the best I ever heard, and it's still the best.

But that was -- when you consider the volume of information he covered. Using the video, as I think Jake mentioned earlier, the -- you know, the witness testimony, the documents, it's very persuasive stuff.

And you know, if people are listening it's very hard to imagine that they will think that the Democrats and the House managers are just making this up. I mean, the argument that the President extorted or bribed or whatever criminal term you want to use, the President of Ukraine to get his political dirt on Joe Biden in return for the $390 million of taxpayer money. I mean, it's there if you want to see it, and the question is if you want to see it.

TAPPER: All right, Jeff Toobin, thanks so much. And I guess Gloria Borger, that's the question. There are 53 Republican Senators in that chamber.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right.

TAPPER: Are they willing to hear the evidence? You heard John Cornyn, the Senator from Texas, say a few minutes ago that they hadn't heard anything new, not even meaning it ironically because John Cornyn voted 11 times yesterday to not hear anything new --

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: -- in terms of witnesses and testimony or new evidence, but in any case, I mean, are there 53 or at least four open minds who agree with Jeff?

BORGER: Well, it depends. On witnesses I think we shouldn't fool ourselves into believing that the Republicans are going to vote to convict here. They're not going to get two-thirds. But I do agree with Jeff and with George before him that Schiff made an incredibly persuasive case.

And it may not have persuaded anybody -- any Republicans in the Senate who are not inclined. I mean, my phone is blowing up with things from Lindsey Graham, et cetera, they're not changing their mind. But he did frame this scandal as part of a pattern that started with Russian interference.

He went back to Mueller without going into the details of the Mueller report by playing the clip of Donald Trump in 2016 saying, Russia, if you're listening, talking about the Hillary Clinton e-mails, and then he went through a timeline. And I thought what was really effective were a couple of things.

One is when he talked about the courage of the witnesses who came forward to testify even though their bosses in government did not want them to. BLITZER: Gloria, hold on for one moment, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader is meeting with reporters, let's listen in.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY) MINORITY LEADER: -- 24th, 25th and 26th which we've requested, July, very, very important. So I thought it was an amazing two and a half hours, and I'm hopeful. Look, we have seen that the public pressure for a fair trial is having some effect.

Yesterday a good number of Republicans went to leader McConnell and said we need to improve the resolution.

They didn't improve it on the main area, witnesses and documents, but they did improve it in a few other places, and I am hopeful with speeches like Schiff and with the attention of the nation more focused on this issue now than it ever has been, that there will be continued pressure on many Republican members to ask for witnesses and documents.

We will -- they did last night, there was sort of a little -- well, there was an amendment. They were saying all along, well, don't vote for them now. This is what the President's lawyer said. Don't vote for them now. We'll have a chance later. But there's not a sure chance later.

[15:50:00]

We introduced an amendment that said there would be an assured chance to vote on witnesses and documents later. They rejected it. But if anything that may put more pressure on people by the end of the week to vote for witnesses and documents. I'll take a few questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk more what the Democratic strategy will be at this point and whether or not you think that Jerry Nadler may have alienated some of those moderates you need to win over?

SCHUMER: Look, the Chief Justice chastised both sides without naming anybody for rhetoric that he thought should be toned down. I was so impressed with the House manager's case. It was on the facts. It answered the questions. It talked about why we have witnesses and documents.

The President's lawyers never answered the question of witnesses and documents. They talked about a lot of other things. Did some finger pointing but never answered the question.

I think if you were a juror listening to both sides, you would have sided with the President's -- the House managers, because the President's counsel didn't directly answer the question, why we shouldn't have witnesses and documents?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, do you think Jerry Nadler is right?

SCHUMER: I've said what I am going to say on that issue. OK. Any others on other subjects?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What, what -- SCHUMER: I answered her question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator?

SCHUMER: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, would you be open to, say, a witness trade for Hunter Biden --

SCHUMER: No. I think that's off the table. First of all, the Republicans have the right to bring in any witness they want. They haven't wanted to. And that trade is not on the table.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What more do House managers have to say do you think to convince --

SCHUMER: If House managers continue to do what they have done over the last two hours, I think that it will continue to make a powerful case. A, first step witnesses and documents. Second step, we get a real fair trial and who knows what happens once there's a real fair trial.

If there's not a fair trial, if they just shut it down, any acquittal of President Trump will have a little value.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't think their needs to be --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) know anything that they're changing their minds (INAUDIBLE) what makes you think Schiff's speech --

SCHUMER: Well, I don't think that's entirely accurate. They changed their minds on a couple of things McConnell put in the resolution. I think because the public, it wants a fair trial, and it may happen on witnesses and documents as we move through the week.

That's what I hope. That is what I pray for the sake of the Republic but I certainly think it's not out of the question. Thank you, everybody.

BLITZER: All right, so there you have the Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. He's very pleased, obviously, with Adam Schiff's opening statement.

And Nia, we're looking closely at the next 21 1/2 hours that the Democratic House managers will have today, tomorrow and Friday, and then the White House counsel, they'll have three days and 24 hours to rebut.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Right, in some ways, I mean, we have known what the information that Adam Schiff was going to present. He's obviously very charismatic. He speaks very plainly. He's a prosecutor. He knows convince people in that room. He's obviously trying to convince people outside of the room too, the American public.

What we don't know yet, is what the Republicans will lay out? Those lawyers there who've working closely with the President. The President for instance tweeting, and I think a little while ago on no pressure, basically talking about the Ukrainians saying they didn't feel any pressure.

So that is in some ways the big mystery. Adam Schiff obviously hoping that his presentation echoing the impeachment hearings that went over weeks. The 11 hours that we heard yesterday, that repetition works. Right. It's something that this President obviously knows well, and he did that with the Mueller investigation and is trying it here.

But the big mystery is how are the Republicans going to use their 24 hours? And we'll see how they rebut this very powerful testimony and presentation from Adam Schiff.

BORGER: Can I just talk about the side show, and Chuck Schumer was asked about it, about Jerry Nadler. Who I think should not have accused the Senators last night of participating in a cover-up. It's never a good idea to accuse the people you're to convince, to listen to your case of committing a crime.

But there is such outrage today and it's kind of faux outrage I think from these Republican Senators about, oh, my god, how could Jerry Nadler have done this when the President of the United States has called Democrats every name in the book. Including Jerry Nadler, including Adam Schiff, I won't repeat them. And including Democrats. And so, suddenly the Republicans are outraged that Nadler made a mistake and I think Adam Schiff addressed that when he started his remarks this morning. And said, you know, things were said in the heat of debate and it was late, et cetera, et cetera.

[15:55:00]

And both sides were admonished, but now it has become an issue suddenly from Republicans, oh, my god, the Democrats did not help their case. Well, this is a diversion. This is not what the case is about.

The case is not about Jerry Nadler at 1:00 in the morning. The case is about what Adam Schiff was talking about today and those three days in July that Chuck Schumer was talking about. The phone call on July 25th and the phone call with Sondland the day after. So this has become sort of a side show we're all hearing about.

TAPPER: All right. We're going to squeeze in a quick break. Stay with us. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Let's go back to the Senate impeachment trial, here is House impeachment manager, Congressman Jerry Nadler.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: The House managers will now undertake to tell you the story of the President's Ukraine scheme. As we tell the story it is important to note that the facts before us are not in dispute.

There are no close calls. The evidence shows that President Trump unlawfully withheld military assistance, appropriated by Congress to aid our ally in order to extort that government into helping him with his re-election. Then tried to cover it up when he got caught.

This is the story of a corrupt government-wide effort that drew in ambassadors, cabinet officials, executive branch agencies and the office of the President. This effort threatened the security of Ukraine in its military struggle with Russia and compromised our own national security interests. Because the President cared only about his personal political interests.

In the spring of 2019, the people of Ukraine elected a new leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, who come campaigned on a platform of rooting out corruption in his country. This pledge was welcomed by the United States and its allies.

But the new government also threatened the work of President Trump's chief agent in Ukraine, Rudy Giuliani. As President Zelensky was taking power, Mr. Giuliani was already engaged in an effort to convince the Ukrainian officials to announce two sham investigations.

The first was an effort to smear former Vice President Joe Biden. The second was designed to undermine the intelligence community's unanimous assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. One obstacle to Mr. Giuliani's work was Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, a 33-year veteran of the Foreign Service. Ambassador Yovanovitch had partnered with Ukraine to root out the kind of corruption that would have allowed Mr. Giuliani's lies to flourish. In order to complete his mission, Mr. Giuliani first needed Ambassador Yovanovitch out of the way.

And so, in early 2019, Mr. Giuliani launched a public smear campaign against the --

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