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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) is Interviewed about Impeachment; Thousands Infected as Coronavirus Spreads; Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is Interviewed about Bolton's Revelation. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 27, 2020 - 08:30   ET

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


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ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: "The New York Times" is reporting that John Bolton, the former national security adviser, heard President Trump say that he was withholding military aid to Ukraine until they helped with investigations into Democrats. "The Times" cites sources who saw a draft of the manuscript of Bolton's upcoming book.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the lead impeachment manager.

Chairman Schiff, thank you very much for being here. It's an important day, obviously, for you and everyone.

How do these revelations of what you've just heard from "The New York Times" reporting change the Senate trial?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, I think very dramatically. But first I should say, there is already direct evidence of this link between the $391 million of aid -- military aid for Ukraine and the president's demanding that these political investigations get done.

Mick Mulvaney himself admitted that was the case. Gordon Sondland also already testified that he talked to the president. And while the president denied a quid pro quo during the same conversation, he said, but Zelensky has to go to the mic and essentially announce these investigations.

But this would be another witness that would corroborate in very direct terms, if this report is accurate, that the president told him unequivocally he was holding up the money until Ukraine did these investigations. It completely blasts another hole in the president's defense. And I think for the senators, and I'm not just talking about the four that have been so much the focus of attention. For every senator, Democrat and Republican, I don't know how you can explain that you wanted a search for the truth in this trial and say you don't want to hear from a witness who had a direct conversation about the central allegation in the articles of impeachment, because all of these senators on March 17th, when this book comes out, are going to be asked, if they don't support calling him as a witness, why didn't you want to hear from him when he could have given you information before you rendered your verdict? And I just would not want to be in a position of having to answer that question.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, just to touch on what you first said. If you're saying that you already have this direct witness testimony in the form of Mick Mulvaney and Gordon Sondland, how important is John Bolton to the Senate trial now?

SCHIFF: Well, look, our view is the evidence is already overwhelming. But the president has tried, as you played Mr. Purpura (ph), to contest that, contest those facts. And we made this point in our prebuttle, that is if they seek to contest any of the allegations here, then they are making the argument for additional witnesses, they're making the argument to call the people that we want to call.

And I think the president's false tweets this morning are just a further false exculpatory. He said we didn't try to get his testimony in the House when we did. He said that that we claimed that they had no meeting at the United Nations, when we showed video footage of them having a meeting at the United Nations. He claimed that he gave them the aid earlier than expected, or something along the line, just patently false. When you have essentially the defendant making false statements, it's just further evidence of guilt.

But, at the end of the day, Alisyn, this is the test for these senators. They've taken an oath to be impartial. They've just learned there's a key witness going to the heart of the allegations. The question they have to answer is, do they want to hear the truth?

[08:35:00]

Do they want to cross-examination John Bolton? John Bolton, according to the president, is not telling the truth. Well, let's put John Bolton to the test. He's willing to do it. The question is, are the senators willing to hear the truth.

CAMEROTA: Let me read the tweet that you were referring to because this is clearly on the president's minds this morning. So he tweeted, the Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!

As you point out, that's not right. You did ask John Bolton to testify, but you didn't subpoena him. Do you now regret not subpoenaing John Bolton?

SCHIFF: No, because we subpoenaed his deputy and they're represented by the same lawyer. And the deputy sued us. And the counsel said, if you subpoena John Bolton, he'll sue you also. And basically they would tie us up in court endlessly.

When we did subpoena another witness, Don McGahn, we are still in court now nine months later.

So, here's the situation, and this is, I think, the reason that John Bolton has offered to testify in the Senate, he's got a book coming out in March. He also does not want to be in the position of withholding this information until his book comes out. Now, that was -- that's not an excuse, frankly, for his failure to

testify in the House. He should have come to the House. He should not have threatened to sue us if we subpoenaed him. There's no argument that he should have -- he needed to go to court to get the court to adjudicate this when he has now acknowledged there's nothing classified in what he has to say and he's put it all in the book.

CAMEROTA: But is --

SCHIFF: But nevertheless, he's offered to testify now. We're ready to hear his testimony. We'll be pushing, again, for his testimony. And I think all the senators are now really hard pressed to turn him away.

CAMEROTA: But if the Senate, for whatever reason, decides not to hear from John Bolton, will you subpoena him to appear before your House committee?

SCHIFF: You know, I don't want to go into any kind of a back-up plan because the reality is the senators ought to hear this witness firsthand. They ought to evaluate his credibility. The president and his allies are obviously out there attacking him, saying this is not true. The question is, do we believe the president and his not under oath tweets, or are we going to believe John Bolton when he is under oath? And the senators should see that live. I think the American people should see his testimony live. What are they afraid of? Well, I think we know because they had the manuscript and now we see why they're desperately trying to prevent him from testifying.

And President Trump's claim that the only reason he doesn't want John Bolton to testify, his earlier claim was because he's protecting the office of the presidency for future presidents. We see now just how shallow and false that pious explanation was.

CAMEROTA: Have you had a chance to read this manuscript by chance?

SCHIFF: No, I certainly haven't.

CAMEROTA: Will you now, today, try to get it from the publisher?

SCHIFF: You know what, I think is more important than the manuscript, and I don't have an answer for you, that question right now, but are John Bolton's notes. And this is another theme that we've seen throughout the trial, and that is, several key witnesses, Ambassador Taylor, George Kent and others, took detailed notes. Mr. Morrison took detailed notes. Now we learned that John Bolton took detailed notes and presumably these are contemporaneous. These notes took place while the events were happening, while they were fresh in his mind. Those, in many respects, are more important than the manuscript. So we ought to not only have John Bolton testify, but we ought to see what he wrote down in his notes at the time.

CAMEROTA: The president tweeted about you yesterday and he said basically, quote, that you had not paid the price yet for all of this. You said you took that as a threat. What kind of threat?

SCHIFF: Well, look. You know, I don't think you view this tweet in isolation. This is a president who accuses me of treason and has accused the whistleblower of treason and said there are ways to treat people -- we used to have a way of treating people who were traitors and spies. I don't think there's really much doubt that he wants to at least give the suggestion that the retribution should be of a kind other than at the ballot box.

This is, you know, the -- the president's kind of organized crime speak. And that people would tolerate that or not condemn that in a president, you know, just shows how this president has brought down the stature of his office and debased the public discourse.

CAMEROTA: Just so I'm clear, you mean a threat to your personal safety?

SCHIFF: I think it's intended to be personally threatening. I think that's exactly what the president has in mind.

And, you know, the fact that he would even leave it ambiguous tells you that this is a president who we know has tried to intimidate witnesses, and tried to discourage other people from coming forward, like the whistleblower. So, sadly, this is, you know, part and parcel of the kind of conduct we've seen from this president.

CAMEROTA: And, Chairman, last, are you surprised to hear that the white House has had a copy of this manuscript since December 30th?

[08:40:00]

SCHIFF: Well, I didn't know that they had. But, no, it's not at all surprising because it explains why they are so terrified of having John Bolton testify and why they have tried to raise all these hurdles to his testimony.

But now the veneer has been torn off. The American people can see the president is clearly trying to hide the truth here. The question is, will the senators participate and help the president, or will they demand to see the evidence, demand to hear the truth before they're asked to render a verdict. And I think that their oath requires them to do so.

CAMEROTA: One more thing. Are you surprised to read that John Bolton -- or to hear that John Bolton is reportedly writing that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo knew that Rudy Giuliani's thoughts or schemes or conspiracy theories about Marie Yovanovitch were not true?

SCHIFF: No, that's not surprising at all. In fact, that's consistent with other testimony that the secretary of state knew that this was bogus. Everyone in the State Department knew that the smear against Ambassador Yovanovitch, which Giuliani continues to this day, and the president as well, was completely false. But the secretary wouldn't issue a statement supporting the ambassador because there was fear the president would undercut the secretary or the department with an angry tweet.

And this is, you know, sadly what this administration has become. Fear of all the people who work in the administration, a lot of people outside the administration, of being on the receiving end of one of the president's angry tweets.

What I find remarkable about those tapes, those Parnas tapes that have been released in the last few days is, the president of the United States would order an ambassador fired based on the representation of nothing more than the representation of one of his donors at a dinner and that the president would offer this -- operate this way and then make false statements about his -- even knowing these people just shows what a continuing danger he poses in that office.

CAMEROTA: And how about the revelation that is reportedly in the manuscript that acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was in the room for at least one of the conversations between Rudy Giuliani and President Trump, which he had said that he wasn't privy to?

SCHIFF: That's not surprising either because we know that from John Bolton and Fiona Hill that Mulvaney was part of this drug deal with Sondland. And so he was clearly in the know about a great deal of this. As Sondland testified, everyone was in the loop.

I did find remarkable this, though, that Bolton had a conversation with Attorney General Barr and told Barr that he was brought up in that call. That helps to explain a lot. It helps to explain why Barr's Justice Department tried to keep the whistleblower complaint from Congress. This was not just Barr trying to protect some privilege or some other bogus argument. This was Bill Barr trying to protect Bill Barr.

CAMEROTA: Chairman Adam Schiff, we really appreciate all of your time. Thank you. We'll be watching very closely today.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: And NEW DAY will be right back.

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[08:47:14]

CAMEROTA: Breaking news, Wall Street apparently worried about the deadly coronavirus. Major U.S. stock futures are all down at this moment. The Dow is set to fall by more than 400 points. Oil prices also lower. There are now five confirmed cases in the United States and nearly 3,000 cases in China where 80 people have died. That country's health minister says the virus may be spread by people before they even show symptoms.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now.

So, Sanjay, what about that announcement? How troublesome is it that they could be asymptomatic while spreading it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that -- that is obviously a concern. It hasn't proven out yet for sure. I mean we don't know this. Obviously, here in the United States, the five cases you mentioned were all people who traveled from this particular area of China, came back to the United States, as opposed to people who then received it because it was spread to them, you know, here in the United States. So we don't have evidence clearly that it's spreading among people who don't yet show symptoms.

But to your question, Alisyn, it's bad news because that would mean, obviously, you could be spreading this virus without even knowing that you're carrying it yourself. That would mean many, many more people would develop the infection. It would be harder to contain. As you see there, more contagious.

And, you know, these contacts, the numbers of contacts who come in touch with these people, that number would obviously increase as well. That would be challenging.

But there is something to keep in mind, Alisyn. I hope I can make this point clearly. You and I have talked about this. But it also means that there's probably many thousands more people who do -- who are infected who have either no symptoms or minimal symptoms. And that means the fatality ratio would be much lower, 80 dead, over thousands and thousands infected. You can hopefully understand that that could be potential good news in this.

CAMEROTA: No, I do understand that that would be a silver lining, but we're just waiting for more information about how this is all unfolding.

GUPTA: That's right.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, thank you very much.

John.

GUPTA: Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new information from this draft from former National Security Adviser John Bolton's forthcoming book that the president did link aid to Ukraine to an investigation into the Bidens. What will senators think of this? How will they react this morning? We're joined by a member of the Senate on this, next.

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BERMAN: "The New York Times" reports this morning that a draft manuscript of former National Security Adviser John Bolton's forthcoming book says the president told Bolton -- told him that security aid to Ukraine was linked to the investigation into the Bidens.

Joining us now is Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, clearly a member of the Senate that will make all these decisions about this going forward.

And, Senator, what gives you any reason to believe, as we sit here this morning, that this new revelation, as informative and startling as it is, might cause four Republicans to vote along with Democrats it hear more witnesses?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): I can only hope that the Republicans who, as far as I'm concerned, particularly with this bombshell information about what Bolton has to say, they're behind the eight ball and one hopes that they will step up, face up to some facts.

So this -- you know, they have been saying, and the White House Counsel has been saying, that there are no direct witnesses tying the president's withholding of this aid to investigations and here's John Bolton saying that is exactly what was going on.

BERMAN: And if they continue to say, as some have, they don't need to hear from Bolton, they don't need to hear from witnesses, what will that tell you?

HIRONO: It will tell me that the Republicans are going right along with the president and Mitch McConnell in rigging this trial. It should be a fair trial. And the people in our country know that they want to hear from witnesses and documents, all of which the president has completely stonewalled.

[08:55:05]

So this is called a rigged trial.

BERMAN: Now, you know, Susan Collins was very upset at Jerry Nadler when he used similar types of language arguing that on the Senate floor.

HIRONO: My Senate colleague should be a heck of a lot more concerned and disappointed about what the president did. And we should focus on what the president did as opposed to what our House managers are saying.

BERMAN: Let me -- let me ask you --

HIRONO: This trial is about what the president did.

BERMAN: You will have an opportunity to ask questions of the attorneys on both sides.

HIRONO: Yes.

BERMAN: Based on this "New York Times" report, what questions then would you have for perhaps the president's attorney?

HIRONO: My questions continue to focus on what the president did. And with this information, again, we're going to focus on the need for witnesses, relevant witnesses, and documents. And why is it that we are not going to hear from people like John Bolton and Mulvaney.

BERMAN: Do you think, or are you concerned, about whether or not the president's lawyers knew of this information in the manuscript before they began arguing in his defense?

HIRONO: Well, when they make a declarative statement on Saturday such as, there is absolutely no evidence tying this hold to investigations, that is a declarative statement. One would think that they would have done some research before they did something -- they said something like that and here is a lie to that defense.

BERMAN: Senator Mazie Hirono, we appreciate your time being with us this morning. We know you have a busy and a long day ahead of you.

HIRONO: Good morning.

BERMAN: Thanks so much for being with us.

HIRONO: Thank you.

BERMAN: As we said, there's a lot of new information to process this morning. How will this affect the trial? When will these Republicans speak about what they think about John Bolton's revelations.

We're following this all morning long. CNN's coverage picks up right after this.

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