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Soon: House Managers Begin Final Day of Arguments. Aired 6- 6:30a ET
Aired January 24, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Abuse, betrayal, corruption. This is exactly the understanding that the framers incorporated into the Constitution.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You will see some of these facts and videos with a new context. It compels a finding of guilt and conviction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats have literally bought into that premise that, if you just say it often enough, it must be true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the president's going to be acquitted. There is not an appetite to shut down or bog down the Senate over weeks or months.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): To have a fair trial, to have witnesses and documents is of paramount importance. These senators can work a little longer.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, NN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, January 24. It's 6 a.m. here in New York.
And this morning, as we wake up, there is new reporting that Republicans in the Senate have largely made up their minds not just about removing the president from office, but even hearing witnesses or allowing
s new reporting that Republicans in the Senate have s new reporting that Republicans in the Senate have largely made up their minds not just about removing the president from office, but even hearing witnesses and allowing new evidence in the case against him. There seems to be an answer gelling to the question of whether the House managers have made any inroads in their arguments. This was Adam Schiff late into the night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SCHIFF: If right doesn't matter, it doesn't matter how good the Constitution is. It doesn't matter how brilliant the framers were. Doesn't matter how good or bad our advocacy in this trial is. Doesn't matter how well-written the oath of impartiality is. If right doesn't matter, we're lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: One of the key votes that the House managers need to hear a single new witness is Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski. Without her, there's almost no way to get to the 51 votes needed to make it happen. And there are really no signs that they have her.
On the contrary, late yesterday, not only did she complain a little about the repetition of the House arguments, she was critical of the House for not pushing the issue of witnesses in the courts earlier. This is what she did, "The House made a decision that they didn't want to slow things down by having to go through the courts. And yet now they're basically saying, you guys got to go through the courts. We didn't, but we need you to."
That does not sound like a senator dying to vote yes on witnesses.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: What that could be is a senator's -- a senator responding to pressure from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. CNN has learned that he is working behind the scenes to convince Republicans that new witnesses would extend the trial, quote, "indefinitely." And so that is the same message the White House is sending, threatening to exert executive privilege on every new witness or document.
So today, House prosecutors will focus on the obstruction of Congress charge against the president, and then tomorrow, the president's legal team will get their turn.
We have too much to get to, but let's begin with Suzanne Malveaux. She is live on Capitol Hill. Tell us everything from your vantage point, Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
It's the third and final day for Democrats to make their case. They have exactly seven hours and 53 minutes to argue why they believe that President Trump should be removed from office.
SCHIFF: Abuse, betrayal, corruption. This is exactly the understanding that the framers incorporated into the Constitution.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): For more than nine hours, House Democrats spent day two of their arguments outlining how they say President Trump abused his power.
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): When it came down to choosing between the national interests of the country and his own personal interest his re-election, President Trump chose himself.
MALVEAUX: Many GOP senators annoyed by the Democrats' strategy.
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Well, we sat through another day. Seems like groundhog's day in the Senate.
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): We saw the same stories, the same videos. On Wednesday all day the same stories, the same video.
MALVEAUX: The House managers creating a highly visual presentation to show why they believe Trump's conduct requires removal from office.
SCHIFF: Of necessity, there will be some repetition of information so there is some method to our madness.
MALVEAUX: House Democrats played clips of some of Trump's biggest allies, including Attorney General William Barr, the president's lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, and this clip of Lindsey Graham, who left the room right as it was played.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think that's what they meant by high crimes. It doesn't have to be a crime. It's just when you start using your office and you're acting in a way that hurts people, you committed a high crime.
MALVEAUX: Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff making this emotional plea to end the session.
SCHIFF: And you know you can't trust this president. Do what's right for this country. This is why, if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters. Because right matters. And the truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost.
MALVEAUX: In just hours, the impeachment managers will wrap their case. Today they'll focus on Article II on how they say President Trump obstructed Congress's investigation of the Ukraine scandal.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Now, I am hopeful, given what we've been seeing over the past few days, the powerful arguments of the House managers, that we'll get four Republicans who will join us for witnesses and documents.
MALVEAUX: Democrats need at least four Republicans to subpoena witnesses and get new evidence. Moderate Republican Lisa Murkowski signaled she may be against it saying, quote, "The House made a decision that they didn't want to slow things down by having to go through the courts. And yet now they're basically saying, you guys got to go through the courts. We didn't, but we need you to."
Some Republicans want to put impeachment behind them as soon as possible.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): And if we do have a privilege fight, that will probably be disputed. And so if next week, if the Senate votes to subpoena additional witnesses, that means that this impeachment trial will be delayed weeks, if not months.
MALVEAUX: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says the focus shouldn't be on the trial's length but its substance.
SCHUMER: To have a fair trial, to have witnesses and documents is of paramount importance. And these senators can work a little longer. They can work a bit longer hours. They can work on weekends.
MALVEAUX: And behind the scenes, Trump allies are working with Republicans, making sure that none of them are tempted to cross party lines. They are making the argument that, if you issue subpoenas to witnesses like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, that it will cause an indefinite delay of this process and potentially be held up in the courts. Some Republicans are also arguing, making the case that it's neither worth it to call these witnesses, because ultimately, Trump will invoke executive privilege -- John.
BERMAN: All right. Suzanne Malveaux on Capitol Hill. It all gets started there again in a few hours.
Joining us now, CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart. He was President Clinton's press secretary during his impeachment. And CNN legal analyst Elie Honig.
There is a lot to discuss about the case that the House managers presented. And we will get to that. But first, I think it's important that we make clear where the votes are this morning, Joe.
And I don't think you can look at the statements from Lisa Murkowski and suggest this morning that you think she is leaning toward voting for witnesses or evidence. She is critical of the House for not pushing the issue in the courts before. She is somewhat critical of the repetition.
It seems to be that she is speaking the talking points that, I don't know, she may very well agree with them. I'm not suggesting that she's bucking the pressure, but she seems to believe what is being said by Republicans now that it's just not worth it to go forward.
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I think it was a political long shot from the beginning that you'd get four. I think there was a moment when McConnell had to climb down on the resolution that there seemed to be an opening. But, you know, that may have closed.
I -- I have to go back, though, to Schiff's closing last night. He -- you know, as Elie and I were talking about, he looked directly at the Republicans and played the shame card. And said, if you want to -- you know, the president should be ashamed of himself and basically saying that, if you want to, you know, shove this under the rug and go home, that is a shameful act.
CAMEROTA: Yes. I thought that there was a misfire, actually, in -- in Chairman Schiff's final closing statement to them. Because what he said to them was, you know that the president isn't thinking about doing what's best for the country.
That's not what they think. They think that lower taxes; they think that rolling back regulations; they think that blocking the border is what's best for the country. And so I felt like when he tried to say that to them, they could be like, time out. That's actually not what we think.
The reason we support this president is not because we love him and think that everything he does is perfect. It's because we do think that what he's doing is best for the country. That's neither -- but let me just table that for a moment, if I could.
LOCKHART: You have the votes to table it.
CAMEROTA: Thank you. I do want to get back to Lisa Murkowski. Because I think that her argument was curious. To just read it again, what John is basing the idea that she is moving away from witnesses.
She said, "The House made a decision that they didn't want to slow things down by having to go through the courts. And yet now, they're basically saying, you guys got to go through though courts. We didn't, but we need to."
But Senator Murkowski, since then, things have happened. John Bolton has come forward. In fact, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both of them have said if subpoenaed, we'll be happy to testify. That's different than what the House had at their disposal.
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Things have changed. And Murkowski's argument, to me, is flawed. Because she's seeing, why didn't the House do it? Well, why not now? You can do it, Senate. You can do it.
And what Mitch McConnell seems to be trying to set up here is a choice. Either do it my way, meaning no witnesses and we're done quick, or the hard way. And the hard way, and that's the strategy we're seeing now, which some of the Republican senators are now getting the talking points of. If we go down the road of witnesses, we're going to have an executive privilege fight. It's going to take time.
And if I'm thinking about what's my counter from the Democratic side? I saw Chuck Schumer, Senator Schumer last night said, We'll go to court. If we win the subpoena battle, we'll fight them.
And by the way, where's John Roberts in all this? I mean, physically, he's right there. But metaphysically, he's been absentee. He can weigh in. You can go to the chief justice.
BERMAN: He can weigh in, but he's weighing in as the presiding officer of the Senate. He's not sitting there as the chief justice. Yes, he is the chief justice of the United States. But his opinion there isn't necessarily the same thing as an opinion from the judiciary.
However, Elie, Counselor, what is to keep John Bolton from walking to the sidewalk this morning and saying everything he knows out loud? HONIG: Yes. Nothing. Nothing. I mean, a subpoena would compel him,
force him to do that. But there's no reason he can't just do that. If he's a real patriot like he claims and he has something important to say, let's hear it.
BERMAN: And if the White House exerts executive privilege, what is to keep John Bolton from voluntarily testifying?
HONIG: Yes, no nothing. Same answer. He can come forward and say what he has to say.
CAMEROTA: But does executive privilege cover everything?
HONIG: No. So executive privilege exists. We know that. It's not made up, unlike absolute immunity, which is made up. Executive privilege is a real thing.
But it's not a blanket shield. We know that from the Supreme Court. We know that from the Richard Nixon case. It does not cover all communications. It's really supposed to be limited to communications relating to military secrets, national security secrets.
Now there's a decent argument, perhaps, the president's conversations with John Bolton, national security advisor, do meet that test, but I think the counter would be that's not really what they were discussing. They were discussing the president's political interests.
BERMAN: It also isn't clear whether it exists over former officials. It's not clear whether it exists over conversation between John Bolton and Fiona Hill. There's a lot of gray area here.
And to me, and this is a discussion for another time, it's not clear to me that the judiciary has any role over a Senate impeachment trial. In fact, to me the Constitution seems to indicate the courts have nothing to say about it. So there's no one to appeal the idea of executive privilege to.
Let's talk more about the case that was made yesterday by the House managers. And they used video once again. I admire their use of video.
CAMEROTA: I love going into the vault and shaking out the old video.
BERMAN: I am shamed at times by how well they use the video. This was Jerry Nadler playing sound of Senator Lindsey Graham when he was a member of the House of Representatives making the case that, yes, a president can be impeached and removed for abusing power even if an actual statutory crime is not committed. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NADLER: Now, I might say the same thing of then-House manager Lindsey Graham, who in President Clinton's trial flatly objected the notion that impeachable offenses are limited to violations of established law. Here's what he said.
GRAHAM: What's a high crime? How about an important person hurt somebody of low means? It's not very scholarly. But I think it's the truth. I think that's what they meant by high crimes. Doesn't have to be a crime. It's just when you start using your office and you're acting in a way that hurts people, you committed a high crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: So serious that he's practically whispering.
CAMEROTA: I was so struck by his tone. You know, there's been a lot of yelling throughout all of this impeachment stuff. And there he was practically whispering. He was really sort of deep into the tonal shift there. That was just a different Senator Graham than we've seen lately.
BERMAN: One note. One note. He wasn't actually in his chair in the Senate trial when they played that sound. He had left the room. But like he has done many times over the last two days, they covered that. But Joe, why or how is it effective, to use the words of Lindsey Graham, one of the people who will be voting, to make your case?
LOCKHART: Well, I think a lot of yesterday was about prebutting what you expect to hear from the defense on a number of issues. You know, the Bidens, Lindsey Graham. And they -- I think what the House managers are trying to do is that -- by showing hypocrisy, it's going to show that the defense is not rooted in any constitutional law, in any honesty or truth. It's rooted in the convenience for Donald Trump right now.
CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you, both, very much.
BERMAN: They're going to come back. You don't have to say good-bye to them.
BERMAN: They'll be back, in fact, in like three minutes.
CAMEROTA: Oh, good.
BERMAN: Coming up next hour, we're going to speak with House impeachment manager, Congresswoman Val Demings, about the case the managers are making, what they intend to make today.
CAMEROTA: All right. So how will the president's legal team rebut the allegations we've heard thus far against him? That starts tomorrow when they lay out their case. How much should we expect to hear about, well, the Bidens? That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. SYLVIA GARCIA (D-TX): In short, the allegations against Vice President Biden are groundless. REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Because Shokin was corrupt, Vice President
Biden had urged his removal. This was in accordance with U.S. policy.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): The phony political investigations that President Trump demanded from Ukraine were part of a scheme to sabotage a political rival, Joe Biden, and cheat in the 2020 election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So it was interesting yesterday. House managers repeatedly brought up the Bidens. They didn't have to. Obviously, that was a strategy, and maybe they were getting out ahead of it before President Trump's defense team starts doing that tomorrow?
Let's bring back Joe Lockhart and Elie Honig.
I thought that that was interesting, Elie. You know how courtrooms work and strategy. I think that it was like if they didn't mention Biden, it would be the elephant in the room, I guess. But by mentioning Biden, do they -- was their thinking that they would take the taboo off of it and make it -- sort of normalize it somehow by talking about the Bidens?
HONIG: I think it was a tactical misstep the way they did it. So this happens in regular criminal trials. You know something's coming from the defense. You believe it's irrelevant and a distraction. Like you said, it's a -- it's a conundrum, what do you do? But you can't give it too much oxygen. They spent, if you add up -- I mean, you know, maybe an hour. They went deep into the weeds of the Bidens, and they fed it.
Now, you don't want to completely ignore it. You do have to pull the sting, as we say. Make it hurt less when they say it, but you brush it off. You say, they're going to go on and on about the Bidens and whether the Bidens did wrong or not. It doesn't matter. Either way, what Donald Trump did was wrong. So you address it. You pull the sting, but you don't dwell on it. And they dwelled on it too much.
BERMAN: What do you think, Joe? I mean, there's the law, and then there's the politics of it. And they're not necessarily the same thing.
LOCKHART: They're not. And I think there was an element of prebutting and saying -- you know, inoculating themselves to, we ignored it.
But I think there's something much more here. This is central to the case of corruption here. It is central that there was nothing to -- in fact, Joe Biden was on the side of the angels doing U.S. foreign policy, and the president pressured a foreign government to manufacture -- and remember, he didn't want an investigation.
He wanted an announcement of an investigation. He wanted to do a drive-by political shooting on Joe Biden. And he used U.S. foreign policy and U.S. national security to get that done. That is central to the case of abusing your power. I think they had to do it.
CAMEROTA: I do think they had to remind the room, the Senate chamber, as well as everyone watching, that that was the corrupt prosecutor. The prosecutor that Joe -- Vice President Joe Biden and the global community, at least the allies at that time, wanted gone. And he had a history of corruption, and we could have gone through that.
To remind people that, whatever you hear next, that that's -- that corrupt prosecutor is the one that Rudy Giuliani started siding with.
HONIG: Yes. That's a point worth making, and that's a point that could be made in the 30 seconds it just took you to make it.
CAMEROTA: I know. Why didn't they ask me?
HONIG: They should. Next witness, Alisyn Camerota. But they spent way too long. They got really deep in the weeds. And look, the Republicans had a very easy counternarrative that I think will resonate with people who don't want to look too deep, which is just $50,000 a month for this guy with no expertise? The average American is going to react to that, as well. So they had to anticipate it, but they went way too deep.
BERMAN: The Republicans are now saying they opened the door for Jay Sekulow and the president's defense attorney.
CAMEROTA: That door was already ajar.
BERMAN: They were going to do whatever they wanted to do, talk about the Bidens. We will see what they present tomorrow.
Joe, it strikes me that today we are going to hear from the House managers closing their case. And this may be the last we really ever hear of them. They'll answer questions next week. But if there are no witnesses, this is it. This is their last chance to present it, unfettered.
They're finishing on the obstruction of Congress charge. And it strikes me that that's an opportunity to talk about the idea of a cover-up. To make two cases at once. So No. 1, the president did this, and No. 2, that your vote is part of this.
LOCKHART: Yes. And the political weapon that the House managers have is simple. This information is going to come out. I -- I guarantee it'll come out in Bolton's book. It'll come out in FOIA requests. It will come out. It always does. And you're responsible for the cover- up.
So at the end of the trial, Adam Schiff will say, in a much more sophisticated way than Jerry Nadler did at the beginning, that you will be part of this cover-up.
And I think the, you know, the whole game here is whether they can get a couple Republicans on witnesses. So today will be focused on, yes, obstruction. But why this vote is so important and what the meaning of voting against witnesses means. And I think, you know, if past is prologue the last couple days, Schiff will nail it.
CAMEROTA: Joe, Elie, thank you, both, very much.
BERMAN: Listen to this. At least 30 million people are now on lockdown. Thirty million. As China races to contain the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus. We have new information you need to hear next.
BERMAN: Breaking overnight, hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets in Baghdad, protesting the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. This follows the call from the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for a million-man march against having U.S. forces on Iraqi soil. It comes after Iraq's parliament voted to expel U.S. forces after the air strikes that killed Iran's top general in Baghdad.
CAMEROTA: We have breaking news. Ten cities in China are now on lockdown as China tries to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. As of this morning, dozens of people are dead and more than 800 people infected around the world.
CNN's David Culver traveled to the epicenter of the outbreak. He joins us live now from Beijing. David, when we spoke to you yesterday, there were three cities on lockdown. And that seems to have exponentially increased.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And just within the past few hours, we're getting more major developments coming out of the Chinese government here, Alisyn. You're right. The scope of this has expanded significantly. We're talking thirty million people.
And so these are essential lockdowns within these cities, within the Hubei province primarily, and that means transportation in and out is heavily restricted, cut off in most cases. And transportation within the cities is also limited, making getting around quite difficult and next to impossible.
But that's the intention according to authorities. They don't want people gathering in public places. And they want, during this time of festival and celebration, people essentially to stay home and stay off the streets. They're trying to limit the exposure.
All this as we're seeing that there is an increasingly dire situation in Wuhan.
CULVER (voice-over): Chinese social media portraying desperate scenes out of the city of Wuhan. This video appears to show a health care worker shouting orders to a long line of possible coronavirus patients standing shoulder to shoulder, telling them not to be nervous.
This one seems to depict a patient's view from the hospital bed, looking up at a medical staff fully covered in hazmat suits. And this one appears to show makeshift hospital tents to accommodate
CNN has not been able to independently verify the videos, but CNN producers have analyzed the images in the videos and the dialects of the people speaking and believe them to be genuine.
Health officials say Wuhan is the epicenter of this deadly coronavirus.