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China Expands Lockdowns; Debunking Trump Defense; Impeachment Trail Impact on Senators; Unmaking the Presidency. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 24, 2020 - 06:30   ET



DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 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. Before the city went on lockdown, CNN went there.

CULVER (on camera): So this is where authorities believe the source of the coronavirus is. It's the wildlife and seafood market. And you can perhaps see over there it's cordoned off. You've got police at all the corners. All the store fronts are shuttered.

CULVER (voice over): It is so sensitive that within minutes of us arriving and recording, security asked us to stop filming.

There was an uneasiness felt throughout Wuhan. It brought the normally festive lunar new year celebrations to a halt and it cut down local business. We met this sugar cane vendor from a city two hours outside Wuhan. She told us she was scared and so, too, her family.

XIAO CHUAN'AN, SUGARCANE VENDOR (through translator): They were asking me to go back home, but I can't leave with all my inventory here. I've already bought these goods. I have no choice. I have to stay here and resign myself to my fate.

CULVER: In a drastic effort to contain this spread, China's state media reported a new hospital is being built. They shared this video of bulldozers clearing a lot in Wuhan. They say it will be ready in six days.

Wuhan city officials declared partial lockdown on Thursday, halt transportation, including airports, highways and train stations to halt service out of the city.

Just before it took effect, we rushed to board a train. And so, too, did hundreds of others. Crowds lined up for tickets at 4:00 a.m., stretching out the door, trying to catch one of the last training out of Wuhan.


CULVER: And we have learned about new restrictions coming here to Beijing, as well as Shanghai, John. They are raising the public health level to its highest level. They're going to regulate electricity. They're going to regulate water. They're going to prevent folks from hording medications. And they say they can quarantine any suspected cases that they determine need to be quarantined.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my gosh. It just -- every day it changes and gets worse.

David, thank you very much for reporting from the region there for us.

All right, President Trump's lawyers say that every administration withholds aid for political purposes. But that's not true. The facts, next.



CAMEROTA: One of President Trump's apparent defenses that you may hear tomorrow is that withholding aid to foreign governments is routine.


JAY SEKULOW, OUTSIDE LEGAL COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: The Obama administration withheld $585 million of promised aid to Egypt in 2013. But the administration's public message was that the money was not officially on hold as technically it was not due until September 30th, the end of the fiscal year, so they didn't have to disclose the halt to anyone. Sounds like this may be a practice of a number of administrations.


CAMEROTA: OK. Is the argument they're making true?

Joining us now is CNN political analyst Josh Rogin. He's a foreign policy columnist for "The Washington Post."

Josh, great to have you.

You wrote an op-ed or column recently where you said Trump's lawyers don't understand how foreign aid works. What do you mean?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, when Jay Sekulow said that on Tuesday, I recalled that he's referring to the article that I wrote for "The Daily Beast" when I worked for a guy named John Avlon -- you might have heard of him --

CAMEROTA: I have heard of him, yes.

ROGIN: In 2013. And I can tell you exactly what happened there. The Obama administration was withholding aid from the Egyptian military because they were cracking down on protesters. And they didn't tell Congress because they didn't want to call it a coup, even though they believed it was a coup. So that's totally the opposite of what Trump is alleged of doing for two important reasons. One, he was -- they -- Obama wasn't trying to illicit a political favor for his own personal reasons. And, two, he was trying to pressure the Egyptians to do the right thing, where Trump is alleged to be trying to pressure the Ukrainians to do the wrong thing, OK.

You know, so, overall, if you look at all the -- all of the examples that Jay Sekulow laid out, they fit a pattern. These are aid moves that are meant to advance U.S. interests and values, OK. And that's the total opposite of what Trump is alleged to have done, which is aid moves to advance his own personal corrupt interests.


ROGIN: And by putting them together, he destroys the entire concept of foreign aid as we know it.

CAMEROTA: See, what's interesting is that President Trump doesn't deal in nuance, as we know. That's not how his brain thinks. Foreign aid is foreign aid. Withholding it is withholding it, in his mind.

But the law does deal in nuance. That's what the law is all about is that it's different withholding foreign aid because you want to win an upcoming political campaign versus trying to stop a military coup.

So why don't his lawyers deal in the legal nuance?

ROGIN: Right. I -- well, first of all, you're absolutely right, we have rules around foreign aid for a good reason. It's because it's not President Trump's money, it's the U.S. taxpayer's money and it's meant to achieve policy goals, not to advance one party's interest against the others.

But I think what we saw with the Trump -- with Trump's lawyers in the debate over the amendments, which is a good preview of what we're about to see tomorrow, is that they're not tackling these arguments based on the law. They're tackling these arguments based on what talking points they can amplify so that Trump's defenders can defend him on Twitter and so that they can sort of game the coverage of this impeachment process. That's their goal. I mean we had two days of -- three days of excruciatingly detailed evidence of the president and his aides' actions related to Ukraine aid.

That's not what we're going to see in the coming days. What we're going to see is a lot of spaghetti thrown against the wall. And they don't care how much of it sticks. Because some of it is going to stick. And if that convinces people in the middle that, oh, well, maybe it's not clear that Trump did anything wrong here and that that's enough and that's basically their goal.

CAMEROTA: Another strand of spaghetti that they may try to throw at the wall is that President Trump doesn't really like giving any foreign aid. He doesn't like that he -- that the U.S. gives money to other countries.

Does that fall into this -- will this fall into that bucket?

ROGIN: Yes, no, I think that falls into the bucket of true but irrelevant. I mean -- and we see that in the other examples that Sekulow gave on Tuesday, right, Trump cut aid to Latin American countries because he wanted to pressure them to stop sending people towards the United States.


Of course that's going to have the opposite effect. He cut aid to Afghanistan ostensively because of corruption. He doesn't like foreign aid. We get that, OK, but that's -- that's a long way from using the foreign aid to pressure an ally, a democracy that's struggling against Russian aggression to forfeit its independence to help him in his election, OK?

So you can be skeptical of foreign aid. That's legitimate. But you can't take that to the next level and use it to destroy the effort to promote American interests and values. That's too far.

CAMEROTA: Josh Rogin, thank you for helping us preview what we may see beginning tomorrow morning.

ROGIN: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news for you out of Houston.

These are live aerials I'm about to show you of a huge explosion that has rocked the northwest part of the city. Firefighters and emergency crews are now on the scene.

Again, this is Houston. There was an explosion there. We're told the blast could be felt for miles. It blew out windows and sent a huge fireball into the sky. Debris rained down on parts of the city.

Police confirmed the explosion came from a factory. We don't know much about this yet. We're going to bring you more information as it becomes available.

CAMEROTA: That looks horrible. We'll get you more details.

All right, Senator Sanders may be sidelined from the campaign trail, but that's not preventing him from surging in the polls. Harry Enten is here to tell us why, next.



BERMAN: So to those who were listening, overnight, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican from Alaska, seemed to signal she's leaning toward voting against subpoenas for new witnesses or new evidence. Murkowski and a few other key senators, they are the key to determining whether or not there will be witnesses or evidence in all this. Murkowski's not up for election, but some of those other senators are.

So what is the reality for them in their home states?

Joining us now, CNN's senior politics writer and analyst Harry Enten.


CAMEROTA: Hi, Harry.


OK, so let's talk a look at who we're talking about, the vulnerable senators who are up. Republican senators up for election in 2020. We're talking about Martha McSally in Arizona, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Susan Collins in Maine, and Thom Tillis in North Carolina. All of these races are rated as tossup or lean or tilt Republican by Inside Election. So these are five that I would very much be paying attention to.

CAMEROTA: OK. But what about Murkowski?

ENTEN: Murkowski, she's not up for re-election until 2022. So she doesn't actually have to worry about any of this type of stuff. She can just vote the way that she wants to vote.

But among these five -- so I took a look at the electoral trends in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine and North Carolina. And I looked at it in two ways. Look at the 2018 House margins in these states. What do we see? They all were either leaning Democratic or tied in the case of Arizona. So these are states that were either really toss-up in 2018 or actually leaning somewhat to the left. But here's where the cross winds are, right? You also have to worry about the base. And look at Trump's 2018 approval rating among his own voters, among his base. Look at how popular he was, all approval ratings here, 89 percent or higher. So if you go against the president, you might incur the wrath of the base. But you might also, by going against the president, do better in the center of the electorate.

BERMAN: The one thing you hear from Republican is people like Susan Collins and Cory Gardner, they need every single one of those Trump voters.

ENTEN: They need every single one of them. And by going against Trump, Trump never forgets.

CAMEROTA: But if they do get every single one of those Trump voters, do they win in their states?

ENTEN: Not necessarily. In North Carolina and in Arizona, that might not be a bad thing. In Iowa as well. But in Colorado and Maine, those were both states that were carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

BERMAN: All right, there is some other polling about where people stand in these states.

ENTEN: Right. So take a look at this. I aggregate across the same states, right? Should the Senate allow new witnesses in the impeachment trial? According to our last CNN poll, about 65 percent said yes they should, only 30 percent said no. So allowing new witnesses seems to be something that's very popular among the center of the electorate in those states.

CAMEROTA: Where are we with convicting the president and removing him?

ENTEN: This is a whole other thing. But they're not necessarily -- there are some -- those same voters may be in favor of witnesses, but they're not necessarily in favor of removing Trump from office. In Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina, about 50 percent say no the president should not be removed. In Iowa, where we actually had a poll, so I was able to break it out, 48 percent say no. So removing the president, not popular in these states.

BERMAN: All right, in terms of the Democratic primary --


BERMAN: There is more polling, more signs that things are going well for Bernie Sanders.

ENTEN: Things are going very, very well for Bernie Sanders. Look at this, in New Hampshire, the second contest, the first primary. Look at this. Now he's up to 29 percent. Clearly leading the field. That's up 14 points. That is a surge going way, way up there. Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, remember, he won it last time. Not out of the question he wins it again. In fact, he is favored there right now.

CAMEROTA: Something's surging.

How about Iowa?

ENTEN: Take a look here. Iowa --

BERMAN: I don't think you could say that on TV.

CAMEROTA: Why not?

BERMAN: Oh, sorry.

ENTEN: Well, you just did say it.

CAMEROTA: I was talking about his energy level. Energy level.

ENTEN: Look at this, in Iowa, take a look here, you know, the average of the last CNN poll and the Monmouth U poll, what do we see? Bernie Sanders up five points. Pete Buttigieg going down into the basement in Iowa, falling down, falling through the cracks. So it's another early state. You win Iowa and you win New Hampshire, that's a very tough train to really stop.

And we also see it -- we spoke about it yesterday, nationally, from late October in Harry's average up from 16 percent in late October, up to 21 percent now. So Iowa, New Hampshire, Iowa, Bernie Sanders up in all of them. And that, my friends, is a sign of a surge. Something is happening in the Democratic primary. BERMAN: So say this again, you can imagine Bernie Sanders winning both

Iowa and New Hampshire. And candidates who do that usually go on to win the nomination.

ENTEN: That's exactly right.

By the way, happy birthday, Iowa caucuses. This year you turn 48. The first ever caucuses were held on this date back in 1972.


BERMAN: Can say, is it 48 or is it 12, right, because you count every four years?

CAMEROTA: Oh, right?


ENTEN: I think the, you know, leap years --

CAMEROTA: Is it in caucus years?

ENTEN: In leap years you still count those years as birthdays, so --

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

ENTEN: Well, you know.

CAMEROTA: Harry, you're wonderful. Thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right, Senator Schiff argued last night that failing to remove President Trump from office will have a long-lasting impact on the future of the country and the presidency. But has President Trump already changed the office of the presidency for good? That's next.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You know you can't trust this president do what's right for this country. You can trust he will do what's right for Donald Trump.


BERMAN: Adam Schiff making his primetime case against the president night. It's a point now really being made in extensive detail in a brand new book "Unmaking the Presidency: Donald Trump's War on the World's Most Powerful Office."


And joining me now is the co-author of that book, Susan Hennessey.

Susan, always great to have you here.


BERMAN: You, of course, are part of the CNN family.

It was almost as if Adam Schiff was reading from your book last night because what he was doing was making the case in primetime that Donald Trump is breaking the presidency. And that's what you write. Why is that important?

HENNESSEY: Yes, I mean, look, what we were trying to make the case in this book, and I think the case that the -- that the House managers are trying to make on the Senate floor right now is this idea that Donald Trump has taken the powers of the American presidency and fundamentally altered them, not by abusing or trying to sort of, you know, extend the edges of executive power, but really by abusing the core powers, by using them not for the public interest, not for the public good, but for his own political purposes.

So, in the last segment, or two ago, we heard Josh Rogin talking about all the times that the Obama administration held aid. For strategic national interest. And so this is yet another example. And there are many dozens and dozens of them of Donald Trump using the powers of his office not to, you know, not to work on behalf of the nation, but instead to benefit himself politically because unlike prior presidents, he doesn't appear to have a conception of the office as being distinct from himself.

BERMAN: You write, most of all Trump proposes a presidency that elevates the expressive and personal dimensions of the office over everything else. It is one in which the institutional office and the personality of its occupant are almost entirely merged, merged in their interests and their impulse and their finances and in their public character.

That's an argument specifically about Donald Trump. And a lot of this is specifically about the president.

Where I find this book the most compelling, though, is where you raise really important issues about the presidency. And the friends that I have remaining in life, basically just my wife, will tell you I've been obsessed over the last couple of years with the fact that what Donald Trump has forced us to address is, how much of the presidency is truly governed by laws and rules and how much has been governed by custom and norms. And the answer, and you address this at length, it's really just by norms. It's really because presidents have chosen to act a certain way. And if a president, for whatever reason, chooses to act in a different way, a way that many see to be the crosses align, there's virtually nothing to stop them.

HENNESSEY: Yes, I think that's what Americans are learning in real time. The American executive is an astonishingly powerful office. It really is the most powerful office in the Democratic world. And not just because we're the United States of America, but because we have a more empowered executive than other countries do. And the way that we place constraints, yes, there are constitutional constraints and legal constraints, but those really are quite broad. What we do is we expect presidents to behave a certain way, to observe particular norms in order to have -- in order to be perceived as legitimate, in order to avoid getting impeached, in order to convince courts to sign off on what they do, in order to convince executive branch officers to actually carry out their will and not contradict them.

And one thing we've seen again and again with this president is, he doesn't appear all that interested in actually doing the job of the president, the kind of ordinary management and policy functions that normal presidents want to do. Instead, because his sort of vision of this office is really just to kind of express himself, to say the things he wants to say and to be perceived in a certain way, he doesn't seem to be as bothered whenever the fact that the way he uses this office really is -- it strains and fractures the ordinary function of government.

BERMAN: One of the thing you write about is that over time Congress and the country has seeded responsibility for investigating and oversight of the executive branch of government to the executive branch of government asking it to investigate itself. And when the president doesn't want to cooperate with that, it turns out, he just doesn't have to.

HENNESSEY: Yes, so this is one idea we try and take really seriously. Donald Trump is not the first president to breach norms and he's not the first president to do a lot of the things that seem so alarming and so shocking. In some ways, he's a completion of a trend that's been going on for a long time in a lot of different contexts.

And one is this idea of investigating the president. Congress -- that's Congress' responsibility, Congress' job, and they've been handing that over to the executive branch for decades, years and years and years, you know, before Donald Trump came along. And we saw it. And basically what that does is you're trusting the president to investigate himself and to not interfere in an investigation.

That didn't work out so well and there's reasons why, you know, having things like special counsels and special prosecutors only work when presidents decide to respect those sort of limits.

What we're seeing here with this Ukraine scandal is Congress, for the first time, actually doing its job of investigating the president itself.

BERMAN: You say they trusted the president to carry a Faberge egg. And the question is whether he's carrying it as delicately as he needs to.

Susan Hennessey, the book "Unmaking the Presidency," it's a terrific read. It raises important questions. Really, like I said, about the presidency itself. Thanks so much for being with us.

HENNESSEY: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, John, in just hours, Democrats will conclude their case against the president.

NEW DAY continues right now.



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you really want to hear what happened, call the witnesses and bring in the documents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unclear if any minds were --