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House Impeachment Manager Rep. Adam Schiff Earns Praise for His Speech on Senate Floor during Impeachment Proceedings; White House Counsel to Present Defense of President Trump in Impeachment Hearing; Schiff: Trump's Behavior "The Framers' Worst Nightmare"; Three Cities on Lockdown as Deadly Virus Kills 17 in China. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 23, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: At least four Republicans, and the trial should include witnesses and documents. Minority leader Chuck Schumer was sounding optimistic, insisting after last night's session, the Democrats are, quote, making gains every day. Well, how do Republicans think today?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The presentation from the House managers has earned praise even from Republicans. I want to show you a picture from late last night. That's Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the president's fierce defenders, telling Adam Schiff he had done a good job, really well-spoken, he was heard to say. It is fair to ask, though, how would Lindsey Graham know, because Graham is one of the senators who our spies tell us was out of the room for chunks of the arguments. Rand Paul was doing a crossword. Cory Booker seen with his iPhone in the cloak room. Many of the senators from both parties were MIA at different times despite rules which require them to stay put.

This is the Senate. They hold themselves in such high esteem. You barely have to ask and they'll blurt out that they're the greatest deliberative body in the world, just don't ask them to sit and listen. If they did, they might learn something.

Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy said, "I think most, if not all senators are hearing the case by the prosecution and the case by the defense for the first time. If you polled the United States Senate, nine out of 10 senators will tell you that they have not read a transcript of the proceeding in the House, and the 10th senator who says he has is lying."

CAMEROTA: All right, joining us now, we have CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod and CNN contributor John Dean, former Nixon White House Counsel. OK, David Axelrod, give us your 30,000-foot view of yesterday. What struck you?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, what struck me was that Schiff and the House managers presented a very tight, compelling case that is familiar to those of us who have been paying attention. Maybe not familiar to Senator Kennedy and some of the people in the room and certainly to some who are watching on TV. The question is, does it matter? And is the -- the notion that the president is going to be removed, I think, is very, very remote. And at the end of the day, the thing that worries me is I think the case was so compelling that the question becomes, if you don't convict, and there are good reasons why you'd be hesitant to remove a president in this way, what is the message you're sending to this president and to future presidents about what their behavior can be? And are there any consequences for doing the kinds of things that the president did?

BERMAN: I think there's also a message being sent by Senator Rand Paul by doing a crossword during the argument.

AXELROD: There's no question --

BERMAN: That sends a clear message.

AXELROD: And I think Lindsey Graham leaving the chamber and so on. What's going to happen in the next few days is they'll finish their case, and then the lawyers for the president are not going to contest the facts. They're going to put the process on trial. They're going to say it's unfair. They're going to call it highly political. They're going to try and turn it into a partisan scrum. And so you have entirely different strategies here. And part of it is the Republican senators saying, you know what, this isn't worthy. This isn't really worthy of an impeachment proceeding, and we're going to demonstrate our feelings about that by leaving the room, for example.

BERMAN: I'd say it's mocking the Constitution. It's mocking their responsibilities as U.S. senators not to sit and listen. And the Democrats are doing it, too, are doing the same thing. When you got to go, you got to go. If you have to go to the bathroom, do it. Dianne Feinstein left, reporters say, an hour early. Maybe she had a reason she needed to leave. If you get a doctor's note, I have no complaint. But if you can't sit there and listen in your chair without doing a crossword, you are not doing your job. The president is on trial. This is definitionally --

AXELROD: You know what they would say, though. They will contend that the impeachment proceeding itself is mocking the Constitution because it isn't worthy. I don't accept that. I think the president's behavior is really, deeply, deeply troubling, but that's what their argument will be.

CAMEROTA: And I appreciate that we just had Congressman Jason Crow on who said that when he was up there that he saw engagement, he saw people locking eyes with him. So his impression was different than ours where we look at the wide shot of the room and some empty seats.

BERMAN: But you know why Jason Crow was being so careful there?

CAMEROTA: Why?

BERMAN: Because Jerry Nadler got rebuked for saying something mean about the senators, right? So Jason Crow -- he doesn't want to. He doesn't want to upset the jury and the court here by saying something offensive. You heard Adam Schiff be incredibly solicitous to those senators yesterday at the beginning because of what happened before. Lisa Murkowski, do we have that quote here we can put up from Lisa Murkowski. Lisa Murkowski was offended by what Jerry Nadler said the other night. She said "I took it as very offensive. As one who was listening attentively and working hard to get a fair process, I was offended." Now it may be bad lawyering by Jerry Nadler, and, John Dean, you can weigh in on this, to suggest that the senators who aren't listening are engaged in a cover-up. But Jerry Nadler being mean isn't a reason to vote against hearing witnesses.

[08:05:07]

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Agreed. I think one of the things for the Republicans is this has got to be difficult to listen to. They didn't want to hear this story about their president. This is a very pivotal impeachment. If they give the president a pass, that makes, as David said, unacceptable behavior acceptable. We don't want presidents shaking down foreign countries to help their political campaign.

And the other thing is the obstruction of Congress. If he gets away with saying, listen, I am above and beyond your reach, we've changed the nature of our government. We don't have separation of powers with checks and balances. That's the big stakes in this impeachment.

AXELROD: Can I just say one thing about Nadler? I know there's been a lot of back and forth about it. It may have been -- you say it was bad lawyering. But in the larger context, the case that the president's lawyers are trying to make is that this is a highly political process. And when you use loaded terms, you lend credence to that argument, and in that way, I think it was foolish of him to say what he said.

CAMEROTA: Senator Chuck Schumer had a different take, slightly different than what you're saying. And I think that you make a good point that it may be hard for them to listen to. If you have been somebody who has been completely on the president's side and you have dismissed all these facts or you haven't wanted to read anything about it, then this will be eye-opening and hard for you to hear. Chuck Schumer had a mildly different take. Here's what he said about it. He said, "When you think about it, it's the first time they've probably heard the whole narrative of what's happened. They get so their news from FOX News which is, at best, totally incomplete, and much more often just false. It may have had an effect on them. But even if it doesn't, I bet tonight had an effect on the public." Do you think that he's being overly optimistic, David?

AXELROD: I think anybody who paid a lot of attention to these hearings had to be impacted by the coherence of the narrative and the weight of the evidence. But as we see in polling, it doesn't really affect the overall, and really the question is, what is the consequence of this? Will the president feel at all chastened by this? Will future presidents feel chastened by it? And will it affect the election in November, which is lightyears away in political terms?

CAMEROTA: I think we know the answer to that. If he's acquitted, he'll feel vindicated. Much like we've already seen some of this movement in terms of the Mueller report.

AXELROD: Certainly claiming he is. Yes, and we know that the day after the Mueller testified was when this Ukraine call happened. So these are weighty concerns because, as I said, taking a president out of office by impeachment, never done before, would be a cataclysmic decision in a very divided country. On the other hand, greenlighting a president who has a penchant for abusing his authority in this way has consequences of its own that are really dramatic.

BERMAN: There are different gradations that could happen here. Number one, you could have some Republicans say they want to hear witnesses, and that in and of itself would be a rebuke of kinds against the president, even if he's not removed. You could have a Republican cross lines and actually vote to remove him. I don't think that will happen necessarily, but that in and of itself --

AXELROD: The worst outcome would be is if he could walk away and say, as his lawyers have said, he did absolutely nothing wrong, because patently, that's not true.

BERMAN: You don't have many Republicans coming forward and saying the behavior was wrong, I just don't think we should remove him at this point. That's not the argument you're hearing yet, although the "National Review" sort of makes that case today. I'm curious to see what we see from the managers today and tomorrow, especially given some of the reviews of how they've done so far. David Axelrod, you just gave a scathing review to Jerry Nadler, I think that's fair to say, about what --

AXELROD: Just on that language.

BERMAN: OK, but that was something that had an impact on some people. Others have noted that Adam Schiff is really the first among equals here, that he has done, Jeffrey Toobin said a dazzling job. Lindsey Graham credited him last night. And one of the thing he did last night that I thought was interesting, in primetime, mind you, was not just make the case for removal of the president but also make the case for hearing witnesses. He regularly goes back to that one point.

I want to play a clip for you where he's talking about Ambassador Bill Taylor, not just witnesses, but evidence, and a note that Bill Taylor wrote to Mike Pompeo. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Taylor sent that cable August 29th. Would you like me to read that to you right now? I would like to read it to you right now, except I don't have it, because the State Department wouldn't provide it. But if you'd like me to read it to you, we can do something about that. We can insist on getting that from the State Department.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Why is he leaning into that, John? And also, should the Senate hear much more from Adam Schiff the next few days?

DEAN: Very effective. He did that about a half a dozen times in his evening argument last night. [08:10:01]

The totality of his presentation, I had -- I thought it was about a 30, 40-minute talk, and then they said later it was two-and-a-half hours, I said this has really been gripping. I'm somebody who knows this whole story intimately, and yet he told the story and put the facts together in a narrative that really had to capture everybody in that chamber.

AXELROD: There are very few historic orations on the floor of Congress. This will be remembered, I think, for generations to come. His opening statement was such a tour de force. And what impact it will have, we shall see. He is trying to get these witnesses, very effective in pursuing them. But in laying out the case, one of the really riveting pieces of oration that I've seen in my lifetime on the floor of Congress.

DEAN: I'd agree.

CAMEROTA: David Axelrod, John Dean, thank you both very much. Always interesting to get your perspectives.

BERMAN: Democrats have been arguing that President Trump's dealing with Ukraine, that they are, quote, the Framers' worst nightmare. We'll discuss with a presidential historian, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA) CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, has acted precisely as Hamilton and his contemporaries feared. They feared that a president would subvert our democracy by abusing the awesome power of his office for his own personal or political gain.

[08:15:08]

And so they devised a remedy as powerful as the evil it was meant to combat -- impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's House impeachment manager Adam Schiff making the case to convict and remove the president from office.

The congressman invoked Alexander Hamilton many times to bolster his argument.

Joining me is now CNN presidential historian Jeffrey Engel. He's the co-author of "Impeachment: An American History."

And, Professor, Jimmy Kimmel joke that Adam Schiff invoked Alexander Hamilton so many times that he got nominated for five Tonys. He was all over Hamilton last night. But the reason is, it's because the idea of impeachment is

foundational to the creation of the public, and the infractions which the House is, or did impeach the president for, are also foundational to what the Framers discussed. Explain.

JEFFREY ENGEL, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, first of all, I wish he had rapped some of his remarks by Hamilton. That would have been wonderful. I'm glad you used the word foundational because I think that's key. We need to go back to the very foundation of what the founders were thinking at the Constitutional Convention.

And I think first and foremost, among all the political principles they brought to bear was the idea that human nature encouraged people to seek more power. That's just the nature of being human. Therefore, they set up a government which had not a separation of powers.

I wish we wouldn't teach our kids we have a separation of powers but a competition of powers. And so for each group in the government, including the president, we would expect to want to get more and more and more power. So, therefore, each side must check the other.

Therefore, impeachment -- being the only federal office, the president is the only federal office in the Constitution that has no term limits back in the original Constitution, and, therefore, impeachment is the only way to remove a president who, as human nature would expect, wants to accumulate more and more power and perhaps use that power for his own good as opposed to for the good of the people.

BERMAN: And in terms of what the president is accused of and whether or not it's not the Framers had in mind, they literally discussed how to deal with candidates or elected officials who achieve their office by corrupt means. And in this case, I'll say the president, allegedly corrupt means.

ENGEL: Yes, I have to say, it's actually a little eerie how prescient the people at the Constitutional Convention were about the topics we're discussing. Let's put aside, just for the sake of this discussion whether or not one thinks that President Trump is guilty of what he's being accused of what he's being accused of. At the Constitutional Convention, in fact, I point people to July 20th, of 1787, in particular, they went through a series of exercises about hypotheticals. What would make us want to impeach a president?

And one of the things they said was, well, what if he lies to win an election? Well, then, he should be impeached.

OK, what if he lies to continue to win elections so that he can cover up for his lies because he's going to have -- obviously going to have great power to do so? Well, then, he should be impeached.

OK, what if he associates with people who we know have done criminal things for the sake of elections? Well, then he should be impeached.

OK, how about this, how about if a president works with a foreign power and actually winds up trying to be under the sway of a foreign power or use his office to try to influence a foreign power to do things in the United States? Then he should be impeached.

It's actually just a remarkable list of prescient concerns that the Founders had exactly about what it would be that would require a president to be removed from office.

BERMAN: They thought about all of this very clearly and in some ways very specifically. And they all thought about who should be hearing and determining the case in trial. And they decided on the Senate. Why?

George Conway was on CNN yesterday and he laid out that reason.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE ATTORNEY: The Framers thought the Senate would be a cooler -- it was the saucer where legislation would cool. They thought that senators would be more thoughtful and more contemplative and less -- less moved by the passions of the day because they had six-year terms. And that gives you the opportunity to stand up and do what's right. And that's what should matter to them, what they are going to be remembered for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: At a minimum doing what's right should require them listening to all of the arguments. And I was shocked yesterday to hear that many senators for periods of time were not in their seats. They were in the cloak room.

Is that doing their duty as laid out by the Founders?

ENGEL: You know, I was shocked as well. I didn't know they could leave, because the Constitution, I think, Conway is right, I would extend his points. That if you think about who is represented by each of the different bodies in the federal government, we have the House of Representatives which is genuinely the people's House, popular representation.

[08:20:07]

That's the passionate voice of the people.

But then the Senate is supposed to be, if you will, I wouldn't say so much the cooler chamber as I would say the chamber that's supposed to be more wise, more thoughtful. Not only do they have the six-year terms but remember when the Constitution was written, there was no popular election of senators. So senators were chosen by the legislatures of each state basically to be the best and wisest among them.

So, that's why I think we have a situation where the Founders thought let's have the popular people, if they're concerned about someone acting tyrannically and needs to be removed they can say, hey, Senate, take a look at this. And the Senate should come in and ask themselves, what's best for the country? Not what's best for their party, not what's best for their own political careers, what's best for their country.

And the reason is, everybody who is in the Senate, let's face facts, is employable after they leave the senate. There's no one that's going to go on food stamps after they leave. So, therefore, the idea that senators need to concern themselves with their own safety, their own job more than the sake of the country would be distasteful to the Founders.

BERMAN: The least they can do is sit and listen.

Professor Jeffrey Engel, great to have you on to understand the history here. Come back soon.

ENGEL: Good to talk to you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, John. Now to this alarming story. Millions of people in China are now on lockdown because of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. We have new details just coming in. We'll bring them to you, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:25:28]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking news right now.

Because more than 20 million people in three different cities are now on lockdown in China as officials try to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak, Beijing has just made a major announcement suspending all Chinese New Year celebrations.

Joining us is David Culver. He is live in Beijing, along with CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

And, David, I want to start with you. I know that you recently left the Wuhan area. You were covering all of this. So tell us the breaking news.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'll bring you up to speed with that, first, Alisyn, because it is a major development and we're just confirming this with Chinese officials. So the current city of Wuhan that is currently under this essentially a lockdown, if you will, it's now expanded. This is within the province of Hubei. And it's a Central China province.

Go outside of that, you have surrounding cities of Ezhou and you have Huanggang. Those three combined, we're talking about nearly 20 million people.

These essentially lockdown restrictions, what do they look like? They're restricting airport and train travel, highways are going to be restricted, mostly for folks who are leaving. So they're trying to contain the people who are currently there. They're also going a step further. They're saying that the public

gatherings, going to movie theaters, going to a tourism center, going to any sort of entertainment venue, those will be prohibited for now.

And they're checking cars coming into those cities. They're going to be stopping the cars, going inside, trying to determine whether or not those individuals are perhaps running a fever. They have these thermometers they're carrying with them to see who is coming in and what they're bringing with them.

This is significant because this is expanding to a much broader area now. And it's involving people and, really, people who are uncertain about what this is going to mean going forward. We're reading on social media and there's a lot of concern and unease about if this is even going to be effective going forward. This containment effort.

Now, within Beijing here, we've also learned the celebrations for the lunar New Year which is their huge holiday. This is when hundreds of millions are traveling to be home with their loved ones and to be together, well, those celebrations are going to be dampened because they're not going to have the large gatherings. And officials here in Beijing are saying they want people to abide by that and to stay away from these public gatherings and to avoid them altogether.

So, usually, they're having these temple gatherings, in particular. Not going to happen. It's really making what is a very important type of year a little more difficult to get through for these folks.

CAMEROTA: And, David, and we have all of this video that we're able to see, thanks to you. You narrowly made it out, you know, moments before the lockdown so that you could bring us all of this reporting.

So, Sanjay, I know you have been listening with rapt attention and very alarmed by all of the news over the past few days about this coronavirus. So, now, with this new information that it's three cities, 20 million people in China and they're canceling all these big public celebrations.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: And even as David was speaking, another case now confirmed in Singapore, Alisyn. So another place to add to the list of places that have been affected by this particular virus.

Look, this is, obviously, very disruptive to these cities. It's socially disruptive. It's politically disruptive psychologically. There have been lessons learned since the SARS outbreak 17 years ago and with MERS.

And these containment sort of policies, they can have some impact. I think that's the reason they're doing it. It's a balance, how much disruption versus the impact from a public health standpoint.

The goal is to prevent, obviously, the number of countries around the world from being affected or even these places in China from being more impacted by this. It's not going to stop it. What we're learning just even this morning, Alisyn, is that this virus

seems to be spreading more robustly than we originally thought. Originally, it was thought animals to humans. Then we confirmed it can spread humans to humans. And now, we're hearing second or third generation spread meaning someone who is impacted, infected by this virus secondarily, that person can go on to spread it.

So, this is what health officials are focused on. Everything is about containment. Yes, they're working on vaccines. That's going to take some time. But in order to really try and slow down, I should say, the spread as much as possible.

END