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Soon: House Managers Begin Final Day of Arguments; China Closes Top Tourist Destinations; Will They Call Witnesses? Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 24, 2020 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:30:00]

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): --asking for a personal favor in return for release of the money that Ukraine needed to defend itself against the common enemy is corrupt use of the office for personal gain.

And his acknowledgement as recently as a day ago when he was in Davos that he is continuing to withhold evidence, a virtually clear confession of obstruction. So I think that my Republican colleagues have to hear the president's words and also Colonel Vindman's words that in America we do what's right.

And they need to put country above party, put aside partisanship. We all need to do it and ask for documents and evidence that will complete the picture. There's already overwhelming evidence. Complete the picture is what's necessary.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Well, I mean they're hearing something different than what you're describing. Are you aware that Senator Marsha Blackburn was tweeting apparently last night about Colonel Vindman and denigrating his service? Have you seen that?

BLUMENTHAL: I was unaware of that tweet. It seems pretty striking and repugnant to me, a man who has given his life to military service and who is the son of an immigrant, who feared for his safety when he stood up to the President of United States, one of the most moving moments and I look at my Republican colleagues across the way.

And they were wrapped with attention was when Adam Schiff cited Colonel Vindman's statement that in America, right is given credit and he implored us to do what is right. I think that the new information emerging here for example, that United States Department of Justice either declined or was never asked to do this investigation of the supposedly widespread corruption that that President was citing.

Instead the President went to a foreign power to investigate a United States citizen, his political rival whom he wanted to smear.

CAMEROTA: Well, let me just read to you since you haven't seen it what Sender Blackburn tweeted yesterday, while this - I think while the trial was going on she said, "Adam Schiff is hailing Alexander Vindman as an American patriot. How patriotic is it to bad mouth and ridicule our great nation in front of Russia, America's greatest enemy?" What's your response to that?

BLUMENTHAL: My response, Alisyn is Colonel Vindman, I'm a son of an immigrant and nobody love this country more than my dad who came here in 1935 to escape Nazi persecution. He spoke virtually no English. He had much not much more than the shirt on his back and he knew virtually no one. He loved this country as much or more than anyone I know.

But he was not uncritical of it. Like Colonel Vindman, who loves this country? We should never confuse patriotism with the ability to criticize one person in the government, in this case Colonel Vindman was standing up to corrupt abuse of power by the President of the United States.

He is not the nation. Colonel Vindman can love this nation and can refute the Russians who thrive on a disorder and discord that they have engendered among western democracy and that Ukraine is trying to fight and that we were trying to stop as well through aid to Ukraine.

And that Donald Trump was under cutting, in fact undermining that fight for his personal benefit by withholding that military aid. So I think Colonel Vindman in advocating for the military aid, for the release of it, $491 million of taxpayer money was performing a patriotic duty.

CAMEROTA: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much for taking time to be on New Day. We will be watching closely, today.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The deadly coronavirus has prompted China to close some of its top tourist spots including the Great Wall. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next to talk about the alarming developments in this outbreak.

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[07:35:00]

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BERMAN: Breaking news. More than 30 million people are now under lockdown in ten cities in China as the coronavirus crisis grows. Dozens are dead and another 900 have been affected around the world. Parts of the Great Wall and Disney in Shanghai are now closed.

China is also increasing its containment efforts by building a hospital in the next week near the epicenter. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now. I want to start Sanjay, I guess where we are in the United States. Any sign that it's coming here yet any more than we've seen already?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do have this obviously this patient in Seattle. There are two more patients in Texas and Tennessee that are currently being tested and we don't have the confirmation yet but there's enough of a concern there that those patients were in that area, they had symptoms.

So they're being tested and my guess John, just fast forwarding a little bit, there's probably hundreds of people who will get tested over the next several weeks, most of them will come back negative but we're going to keep hearing about this. That patient in Seattle, John, you remember that in addition to him having the confirmed virus, they were monitoring 16 close contacts.

Overnight they increase that number to 43 people that they're now keeping an eye on in Seattle as well because they think that they had enough close contact with this person. So these numbers will continue to grow here in the United States but the - at least the testing is coming back very quickly.

BERMAN: I have to say one of the things that concerns a lot of people is that the Chinese government isn't exactly a bastion of transparency and if their public actions, the ones we've seen if they're doing this, maybe they're really concerned even more than we know.

How effective are the measures they taking, generally speaking in curbing an outbreak?

GUPTA: You're making an excellent point and I think it's an important nuance point. These containment, these lockdown policies are aggressive. There's no question. They're disruptive politically, socially.

[07:40:00]

You're - you're - we're seeing what's happening in terms of the chaos in Wuhan. When you talk to people about these types of containment facilities, the answer is they can be effective, they can have some effect. They're not going to stop the problem but they can lessen it.

But here's the thing, they're usually used as a measure of last resort not early resort and it is raising the question John, that I think you're raising. Is China jumping the gun a little bit and being very hyper aggressive or is there data that they have, that is making them more concerned because when the World Health Organization looks at this, they say obviously this is a concerning situation.

But they have not yet declared it an international emergency and yet, China's acting very aggressively so is there something else going on? We obviously don't know the answer to that right now but these containment policies can be effective but usually later in the game.

BERMAN: OK, Sanjay Gupta, thanks very much for talking about this. I expect we'll see a lot of you over the next days and weeks.

GUPTA: I'll be here. Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: All right John, partisan media helped start the impeachment and now it's controlling what people think and even what they get to see on the impeachment trial. So can we ever agree on a basic set of facts? Only one man knows. It's John Avlon. Here's his reality check. Hi John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey guys, look, the Trump presidency isn't the only thing on trial in the Senate. Our ability to reason together is on trial as well and that's the more serious test. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy raised a lot of eyebrows when he admitted that senators were hearing the prosecution's case for the first time and you might ask how is this possible.

The answer is a toxic combination of polarization and partisan media because we are self-segregating into separate political realities. Remember this woman from Justin Amash's Town hall before he left the GOP to become an independent?

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was surprised anything negative in the Mueller report at all and I mainly listened to conservative news.

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AVLON: Well, it turns out the senators can be just as trapped in partisan news bubbles as that woman in Michigan. It's no surprise perhaps that the President's legal team is loaded with folks who've made the more than 350 appearances on Fox news over the past year.

We see it as a feedback loop. President mentions Fox news on Twitter more than anything else according to Factbase. Meanwhile, a Fox coverage of the impeachment trials is often reduced to silent B-roll while conservatives opine over it and during prime time impeachment's been pre-empted as their opinion host pair at the party line with chyrons like Dems push hysterical talking points to trial and attack House Manager Adam Schiff as a corrupt lunatic, a congenital liar who would had "not a single friend in high school."

None of which of course comes even close to addressing the evidence. Now perhaps not coincidentally, the network's Senior Legal Analyst has largely been MIA from prime time possibly because he said Trump should be removed from office and the larger irony is that the President was impeached in large part because of hyper partisan echo chamber.

With conservative reporter John Solomon accused of working hand in glove with Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas, writing stories for the Hill about the Bidens in Ukraine as well as the CrowdStrike conspiracy theory, all to feed partisan narratives and justify partisan actions.

And now Solomon's articles for the Hill on Ukraine are notably not cited in the Trump legal brief. While the Hill's promised review of Solomon's articles, won't be completed until well after the impeachment is over.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign is taking advantage of Facebook's fact free as A-OK rule, pushing noun salads like this, Democrats committed the crime, crooked Hillary, dirty cops. They try to fundraise off impeachment.

And if you wonder whether the weaponization of partisan media is really that sinister, we recently found out that Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos had his phone hacked by Saudi crown Prince, MBS.

A man, the Trump administration refused to condemn after he ordered the murder of a Washington Post columnist and that information from that phone ended up being trying to use to blackmail Bezos by the Trump friendly 'National Enquirer.'

So yes, this is all deadly serious. Beyond the question of removing a president, still high bar, never achieved, this is a test of whether facts and evidence still matter to members of what was formerly known as the world's greatest deliberative body.

Or whether they will try to ignore it all, despite overwhelming public opinion as they hide behind the narcotic of groupthink. That would be a dereliction of duty because as a legendary senator once said, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts and that's your reality check.

BERMAN: The narcotic of groupthink is truly dangerous, John and one that is hard to kick, I have to say. When you're talking about addiction of partisan media, President Trump, the President of United States is railing, I think at the TV guide this morning. He is upset with some of the TV listings.

He says just now, "Looks like my lawyers will be forced - forced to start on Saturday which is called Death Valley in T.V.

AVLON: Like Death Valley days or he hasn't known the schedule?

BERMAN: I think he's just learning to schedule this morning and he's upset that he has to start on Saturday.

CAMEROTA: Those are not big rating - numbers. John, thank you very much.

[07:45:00]

BERMAN: All right so an upset down under. Serena Williams has lost in the third round of the Australian Open. Andy Scholes has more in the Bleacher report. Good morning Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, good morning John. Yes, so Serena's quest for grand slam title number 24, it continues, that's the number she needs to tie Margaret Court for the most all time and Serena, she just really didn't have it in this match against China's Wang Qiang.

She had 56 unforced errors. Serena would force a third set and in this she ended up losing 6-4, 6-7, 7-5. Serena now hasn't won a grand slam title since winning the Australian Open back in 2017.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS PLAYER: I was optimistic that I would be able

to win. I thought OK, now - now I'll finish this off. I honestly didn't think I was going to lose that match. Honestly, it was just - if we were just honest with ourselves, it's all on my shoulders. I lost that match. I can't play like that and like, I literally can't do that again. That's unprofessional and it's not cool.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: All right, now the main event of the day at the tournament was defending champion Naomi Osaka taking on 15-year old Coco Gauff. This a rematch from last year's U.S. Open but a different result this time. Coco dominating the match, winning 6-3, 6-4.

She's the youngest player ever to beat a defending champ at the tournament. Coco now moves on to the fourth round and even she can't believe how far she's come.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COCO GAUFF, TENNIS PLAYER: Oh my gosh. I couldn't - if I - like last year - no, two years ago I lost first round in juniors and now I'm here, like this is crazy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Yes, you could just hear the youth in that giggle, guys and get this, most of the entrants in that junior tournament she was referencing, this year in the Australian Open are older than Coco. That's how impressive she is right now.

CAMEROTA: She is a phenom. OK, thank you very much Andy. So House prosecutors have 8:00 hours to wrap up their case today. Have they convinced any Republican senators to say yes to witnesses? We have an impeachment manager here next.

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[07:50:00]

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REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): The only person who stood to benefit from the abuse of office and solicitation of these investigations was Donald Trump. The 45th president of the United States. A violation of public trust. A failure to take care of that the laws be faithfully executed.

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BERMAN: That is impeachment manager Congresswoman Val Demings, making the case on the Senate floor that President Trump abused his power and should be removed from office. Just hours from now, the Democrats will begin their final day of arguments, focusing on the second charge, obstruction of Congress.

It just so happens that Congresswoman Val Demings who you just saw joins me now. Congresswoman, thank you very much for being with us. I know these nights have been late for you and you've got a lot to prepare for.

Coming up today, the focus will be on the second article of impeachment today. Obstruction of Congress. How will you make that argument today and how much will that argument also focus on the Senate decision on whether to allow more witnesses and documents because there is some overlap there with the idea of obstruction of Congress?

DEMINGS: Well, good morning John. It's good to be with you and let me say this, you're absolutely correct. Today we will present the second article of impeachment, abuse of Congress and remember, when we say abuse of Congress, we're not only talking about the House but of course that includes the Senate.

And we know that this President, President Donald Trump has used and abused the authority in his office to obstruct Congress on every turn, to obstruct every witness. Not only did he not allow current administration officials to appear before the House but he prevented former administration employees to appear before the House.

And as you've heard this week we did not receive one single document, not one single document. Now quite frankly, I believe that if the President has done nothing wrong as he says, then certainly if there is testimony out there, there are documents out there that would prove what he's saying then I would expect him to be anxious to get those before the Senate and the impeachment managers.

We haven't seen that.

BERMAN: How do you make the case to the Senate that they should vote for witnesses and new documents without doing what Chairman Nadler did the other night which caused offense amongst some of the senators, saying that if they vote no on witnesses, they're engaged in a cover up?

DEMINGS: Well, let me just say this and - and you know not only are we appealing to the senators because they are judges in this trial, but we're also appealing to the American people and certainly as a former police chief, I am quite familiar with testimony and documents - and evidence and court rooms and presentations.

[07:55:00]

And in no court room in America, there are trials going on all over our nation. In no courtroom in America, do you not see witnesses and documents. Do you not see the evidence. In no trial in America, do you see the defendant having the lead way to obstruct the investigation or the case against him on every turn.

And I think quite frankly, it is our job to remind the senators of that. The evidence in this case against the President is pretty overwhelming and the senators are there. They're listening, they're taking notes and I just expect them to remember the oath that they've taken and to do the right thing. BERMAN: Your team focused quite a bit on the Bidens yesterday and the

accusations that the President has - his people have made against them over time and the specific requests they made about the Bidens.

And there are people wondering today, is if perhaps there was too much focus on them. Have you opened the door to the President's defense team talking about the unfounded accusations against the Bidens? What was the strategic thinking there?

DEMINGS: Well, you know when I think about where we are, this scheme or drug deal if you will, began in April of last year and two things happened in April or two things that happened. Number one, Robert Mueller had indicated that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

That they did so in a sweeping and systematic way and that the Trump campaign was in touch with several Russian officials and basically utilized some of the information that was presented to their advantage.

The second thing that happened in April of last year was that former Vice President Joe Biden announced his presidential campaign. Now two years before that President Trump had authorized money to assist Ukraine, military aid. He done that for two years. What was it about 2019 that was different?

And so the President, it appears is in this mess in the first place because of his fear of former Vice President Joe Biden being a presidential candidates. We know that polls during that time, when he announced, polls immediately showed that Joe Biden would probably win the election. Polls had him up by 10 points.

And I think the president's absolute fear, whether unfounded or not, I don't - I don't know but caused him to be in this mess in the first place and so we are - we are presenting the evidence and the evidence centers around President Trump trying to coerce a foreign power into digging up dirt against his political opponents, who just happened to have been Joe Biden.

BERMAN: Can I ask one process question because I know millions of Americans are watching you present this case and wondering how you prepare for it because you guys go up there for hours and present. Each one of you will do an hour. 90 minutes. Two hours of presentation with video and audio and demonstrations.

Do you practice that beforehand? How is it prepared? How is the video put together? Can you give us a window into that?

DEMINGS: Well, look, certainly John, it is a tremendous amount preparation because we need to get this right. You know the president deserves a fair trial. The American people deserve a fair trial. The senators deserve our presentation to be concise and thorough and so there is a lot of time and hours in preparation that goes on into it.

But let me say this. We have a tremendous staff and they are really the wind beneath our wings. They keep us going and you know they get us to the point where we can take the Senate floor and present our case for hours on end. This is important and as I said, we have to get it right.

BERMAN: I only have about 30 seconds left so the big global question here is what happens if this ends with a vote not to convict the president? What happens if there are no more witnesses? What message does that send?

DEMINGS: Well, let me say this. We're going to continue to push for witnesses and documents as I've already indicated. I don't know of any trial that proceeds with witnesses or documents being available and no one seeks them.

But we don't know what's going to happen at the end. I don't know what the future will bring but I want to be at a place and I know the other House managers do as well that we are presenting the best case, possible to hold this president who has abused his power and obstructed Congress' investigation into that abuse, accountable because John, quite frankly, no one is above the law, up to and including the president of the United States.

BERMAN: Congresswoman Val Demings, thank you for being with us this morning. We'll let you go, prepare for the presentations which begin in just a few hours.

DEMINGS: Thank you.

BERMAN: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. CNN Newsroom is next for U.S. viewers, a big day in the impeachment trial. New Day continues now.

END