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McConnell Told Senators In Closed-Door Meeting The GOP Doesn't Have The Votes To Block Witnesses; Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) Discuss About The Presentation Of Republicans In The Senate Impeachment Trial; Trump's Ex-Chief Of Staff: "I Believe John Bolton"; Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is Interviewed About the Impeachment Trial; Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) is Interviewed About the Impeachment Trial. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 28, 2020 - 19:00   ET


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, calling it a moment of grace.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: So heartbreaking, so sad indeed. Nick Watt with the very latest. Thank you. Thanks for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next breaking news, Senator Mitch McConnell telling Republicans he doesn't have the votes to stop witnesses from testifying as of now. Does that mean that we will all hear from John Bolton? The lead House manager, Chairman Adam Schiff is OUTFRONT tonight.

Plus, Republicans pushing a new idea to keep Bolton from testifying. But will it fly with Democrats? Senate Minority Chuck Schumer will answer that point blank.

And breaking news, officials investigating the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant. They're just about to hold a press conference. What they are saying now as new details are coming on that deadly crash. Let's go OUTFRONT

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying he does not have the votes to block witnesses from testifying in Trump's impeachment trial. Now, this is according to a source who was in the room with McConnell.

Trump's layers wrapped up their opening statements. McConnell met with Republicans, had a list where he was tracking who was doing what and he told them, not there yet, still a work in progress on his side. It comes as the trial is entering an entirely new phase.

We are now just 18 hours of time in that chamber from all 100 senators finally getting the chance to question Trump's legal team and the House managers. This is the official form where senators are going to write their questions. So they actually have a form. They're submitting them. Mitch McConnell, Senator Schumer are going to go through them for each side. This is a huge moment because what happens next determines if

McConnell will be able to get his party in line and stop witnesses because that's what he wants to do. They've got an up or down vote on witnesses and documents as a whole on Friday and then if that is an up, they're happening, then it becomes which ones.

Will it be former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who according to his upcoming book claims Trump directly tied aid to Ukraine to investigations into the Bidens. We have a lot to get into tonight. I want to start with Phil Mattingly who is on Capitol Hill for us.

And Phil, you broke the news tonight. McConnell behind closed-doors with Republicans and he does not, as of tonight, have the votes to block those witnesses he is telling them. What more are you learning?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. As of tonight being the key caveat at least at this point, Erin, just moments after the White House legal team finished their opening arguments, every single Republican senator went behind closed-doors for a meeting specifically on the issue of witnesses.

And I'm told inside that meeting, the Majority Leader, again, made a case, he's made behind closed-doors several times against voting for witnesses. Making clear that he believes it would lead to an unwieldy process, a lengthy process and a process he made clear wouldn't involve just one or two witnesses, but perhaps several witnesses. Maybe witnesses that moderate Republicans who want to call John Bolton wouldn't eventually approve of.

The reality here is this, inside the Republican conference, senators coming out of that meeting told me their sense was the conference has largely stabilized in the wake of the John Bolton revelations from The New York Times. There's a moment, Anderson, yesterday where the party was very unsettled about where things were headed. That has started to shift.

However, it hasn't shifted enough for McConnell to actually have the 51 votes to block witnesses on Friday when that vote occurs. It is a work in progress. Now, that doesn't mean that there are four Republican senators ready to vote with 47 Democrats in support of witnesses.

What it does mean is there are enough Republicans at this point in time who are non committal and that's why the next few days are so important. Obviously, you talk about the question and answers, the 16 hours that will occur over the next two days, that will be very important.

But what will also be important is what's going on behind the scenes.


MATTINGLY: There are expected to be several meetings, a lot of pressure, a lot of countervailing pressures coming from all sides. The bottom line is this, over the course of the next 72 hours or so, both sides will have a last chance to make their case and that case will define whether or not this trial ends likely by Friday or Saturday or whether it goes on for weeks, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Phil. And inside the Senate chamber today, the President's team wrapped up its case. Sara Murray is OUTFRONT.



JAY SEKULOW, OUTSIDE LEGAL COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: ... the trial of the leader of the free world and the duly elected President of the United States. It is not a game of leaks and unsourced manuscripts.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT(voice over): President Trump's defense team warning today that impeaching the President would be dangerous.


SEKULOW: Danger. Danger. Danger. You are being asked to remove a duly elected President of the United States and you're being asked to do it in an election year. In an election year.

PAT CIPOLLONE, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Why not trust the American people with this decision? Why tear up their ballots?


MURRAY(voice over): The arguments from Trump's lawyers come after The New York Times reported former National Security Advisor John Bolton wrote in his manuscript that Trump told him directly he was withholding security aid for Ukraine until Ukraine pursued investigations into Joe Biden and his family. Today, Trump's team use the President's own words to defend him.



SEKULOW: Here's what the President said in response to that New York Times piece. "I never told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats including the Bidens. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book."


MURRAY(voice over): And used lawmakers' decades old comments against them.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): There must never be a narrowly voted impeachment.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): This is unfair to the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republicans are crossing out the impeachment standard of high crimes and misdemeanors.

CIPOLLONE: This should end now as quickly as possible.


MURRAY(voice over): Next up, senators get up to 16 hours over two days to question House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team. Democrats are expected to use much of that time hammering home their call for witnesses in hopes of winning over moderate Republicans.

Today, Senator Mitt Romney signaled he would be open to a witness swap.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I'd like to hear from John Bolton and I think the idea that's been expressed in the media about having each side be able to choose a witness or maybe more than one witness on a paired basis has some merit.


MURRAY(voice over): Senator Lisa Murkowski said Bolton probably has some things that would be helpful for us. While Senator James Lankford suggested senators should first be able to review Bolton's manuscript, then make a decision on witnesses.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): We can read all of it and see for ourselves if there's anything significant there.



MURRAY: Now, on top of calling all of this dangerous, the President's defense team today said the President didn't commit any impeachable offenses. They say essentially this all just boils down to a policy disagreement and you can't remove the President for that.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sara. And OUTFRONT now, lead impeachment manager, Congressman Adam Schiff. You've all seen him making the case for Democrats. He is also Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

And Chairman, I appreciate your time tonight. So the President's layer today, Jay Sekulow, says House managers made reckless allegations in the presentations we saw from all of you. What did you think of theirs now they're done?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Well, I think they made a really powerful case for calling John Bolton, Jay Sekulow tried to make the argument today that this was just a policy difference. This is merely just policy. But, of course, that's absolutely wrong and he's aware of that.

And I think the senators understand that the reason they're so desperately trying to prevent John Bolton testifying is that John Bolton is going to say this had nothing to do with policy. This was the President withholding military aid from an ally at war in order to course an ally into conducting an investigation, including one of his political opponent.

That's not policy, that's corruption. And that's why they're so desperate to prevent this witness from coming forward. Now, John Bolton corroborates other witnesses. So this is just one additional, but important piece of evidence to, I think, blow another hole in the President's defense.

BURNETT: It is fair that what he is saying is consistent with what all of the other witnesses have said thus far, that is for sure. And there are some Republicans who know that, OK, and they're pointing to, all right, well it happened but - and the but is Alan Dershowitz, right?


BURNETT: His defense of the President clearly summon Trump's team now think that's the best argument to get some of those moderate Republicans on their side. So it was so effective when Dershowitz said it last night that they said it again today. Here's Alan Dershowitz last night and Jay Sekulow this morning.


ALAN DERSHOWITZ, TRUMP'S IMPEACHMENT DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.

SEKULOW: I'm quoting exactly from Professor Dershowitz. He says, "Let me repeat it, Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true," even if true, "would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.


BURNETT: He added a second even if true, because Sekulow was appealing to Republicans that he thinks that argument will make a case. OK. It happened but it's not impeachable. John Cornyn, as you know, today said he thought that was a 'pretty compelling argument'. Do you think that that argument sealed the deal for some of your Republican colleagues?

SCHIFF: It certainly shouldn't and this is where we thought we would end up, frankly, and it's interesting to see the President's team now confirm it. They're basically saying, OK, he did it. We acknowledge he did it. We don't want John Bolton to come here, because he will just say that he did it. He withheld the money. He did try to cheat in the next election. So we have to fall back on this argument that so what, the

Constitution still doesn't permit you to remove him even though he so grossly abused his power. Well, in order to make that argument, they had to leave the field of constitutional law experts and go to a criminal defense lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who acknowledged on the Senate floor that most constitutional lawyers don't buy his argument.

And what's more Alan Dershowitz doesn't buy Alan Dershowitz' argument 21 years ago when he was arguing about the Clinton impeachment, he made the exact opposite argument.


Bill Barr in his memo to get the job as Attorney General said a president can be impeached for abuse of power. The Republican expert witness in the House disagrees with Alan Dershowitz. So it's really quite extraordinary that their defense has come now to this very thin read, which is, yes, he did it, but we've been able to find one criminal defense lawyer who says that's not enough.

That's pretty weak stuff and I don't think it lets the senators off the hook from calling a witness that overwhelmingly, I think, 85 percent American people now want to hear from. And at the end of the day, senators going to have to decide is this going to be a fair trial or is it not and the key to a fair trial is having witnesses.

BURNETT: Now, one of those witnesses could be you. Your name has come up repeatedly during the President's defense. Here's just a few.



SEKULOW: Manager Schiff ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Manager Schiff ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Manager Schiff ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Manager Schiff ...



BURNETT: And that's just a taste, Chairman. As you know, you're sitting in that room. There were 24 of those yesterday alone. Are you worried at all that you've become sort of part of their story, part of their argument or not?

SCHIFF: No. I mean, this is, again, a criminal defense tactic, which is when the evidence is really damning against your client, you attack the prosecution. So there's nothing new or notable about that. Frankly, I'm surprised they haven't done more of that, because their case is so weak. But look, there's no question that the people around the President who

had knowledge of his holding up the military aid, had knowledge about why he wouldn't let the President of Ukraine, our ally, in the door of the Oval Office when he let the Russian Foreign Minister in.

Those are witnesses that have relevant information. I don't and neither for that matter does Hunter Biden. The question is, are we going to say that in order to get relevant witnesses, we're going to let the President's team turn this into some kind of a circus. I don't think the Senators want that. It's why they're in such a predicament. They know the difference between relevant witnesses and irrelevant ones, even if that kind of argumentation pleases the President.

BURNETT: So, look, when it comes to witnesses, you may be aware, obviously, the Majority Leader McConnell says he does not currently have the votes to block them. Now, as I said, currently, that could change. But that's what he's telling his caucus tonight.

And republicans are, you heard Mitt Romney obviously making it clear he supports witnesses but sort of in a swap, John Bolton in exchange for. Well, a lot of the Republicans, one of the people they want to hear from, yes, it's Hunter Biden. Another one of them is you. They want to talk about the whole whistleblower situation.

Are there any circumstances, Chairman, where you would appear as a witness?

SCHIFF: I don't really have anything to add and I think this is just another red herring. This is their way of saying, if you want to call someone who is right in the middle of the President's extortionist scheme, that we're going to force these witnesses that really don't have anything to add. I don't think that makes any sense and I don't want to play into that gimmick.

The American people want to have a fair trial and I can understand why this is so difficult for senators to vote against, because every American that's ever had jury duty knows that it begins with witness testimony and it involves the introduction of documents. And they can throw up, well, let's call Adam Schiff. At one point they wanted to call Speaker Pelosi. They've also mentioned to attacking me.

They've invoke the name today of James Comey and Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, the whole sort of list of grievances of the President. Are they going to call those too, who also have nothing to say about the central charges against the President? I think it's merely a distraction.

BURNETT: So if it comes down to you for Bolton though, would you do it, Chairman Schiff?

SCHIFF: I don't think I have anything to offer. And again, I don't want to play into that false choice. The senators have the votes. If they want a fair trial to call John Bolton, they should call John Bolton. I think they should call Mick Mulvaney.

If the President wants to call people, if they want to call one for one, Mick Mulvaney says that John Bolton is wrong. Call Mick Mulvaney, call Secretary Pompeo. Why is it that the President can't call anyone who worked around him in his defense? And the answer is, they know he's guilty and so they want to throw up this false choice, well, we're just going to seek to inflict pain on the other side by calling Hunter Biden or we're going to call relevant people like Adam Schiff. The American people can see through that.

BURNETT: All right. Chairman, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, President Trump's former chief of staff coming to John Bolton's defense saying he believes John Bolton not Donald Trump.


JOHN KELLY, FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP CHIEF OF STAFF: John is a stand up guy and we'll see what happens.


BURNETT: Plus, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is my guest. How many Republicans does he think will side with him on this crucial witness vote?

Plus, just before the crash that kill Kobe Bryant, he and his daughter attended church taking communion.


Hear how is faith played such an important role in Bryant's life.



BURNETT: Tonight, "I believe John Bolton." That's President Trump's former chief of staff, John Kelly speaking out in defense of John Bolton. He continued to say this.


KELLY: John is a stand up guy and we'll see what happens.


BURNETT: This as the President insists Bolton is lying. Trump says Bolton is lying. John Kelly says absolutely not. Bolton, of course, wrote that aid to Ukraine was conditioned on an investigation that Ukraine would announce into Trump's political rivals. Kelly telling reporters, "If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton." Couldn't be more clear.

OUTFRONT now Laura Coates, former Federal Prosecutor and our Legal Analyst and David Axelrod, former Senior Advisor to President Obama and a CNN Senior Political Commentator.

David, John Kelly is a retired four star general. He knows the President. He dealt with the good and the bad as chief of staff for 17 months. He knows John Bolton very well over many, many years. He says, "If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton." He's well aware of President Trump today called Bolton a liar. How significant is this?

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: The honest to God truth is I don't know how significant it is, because I would guess that most of the Republican members of Congress who have known John Bolton for decades also probably believe that he's telling the truth.


At this point I think that the case has been proven and Bolton's comments in the book don't come as a great surprise to anyone. And now, as you and Adam Schiff we're discussing, they're looking for an off ramp, because they just want this thing to end. And so it's a matter of rationalizing the behavior rather than denying that it happened.

So, I mean, obviously it's important former chief of staff who's had a lot of experience with Trump, as you mentioned. But let's face it, Donald Trump's record for veracity is not very good. Everyone knows that, particularly the people who have to deal with him on a regular basis. So I don't know that this changes that much.

BURNETT: No. I mean, that's the thing. But I guess it is interesting, Laura, in the context of a former chief of staff being willing to say, the president calls him a liar. No, that's not the liar. I mean, it's powerful, I guess, in that regard of a person standing up to the President.

LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Especially since talking about credibility of Bolton and that's the idea of calling him as a witness. Right, Erin? I mean, to test the credibility if it's a he said and he said scenario, somebody who knows both men is there to say, actually, if it's a he said, he said, I believe him.

BURNETT: I pick him, yes. Right. So as David said and I was talking about it with Chairman Schiff, there's been this sort of, OK, even if he did all of these things, it's not impeachable. But then within that there's still a fight, it seems, to try to prevent not just Bolton from testifying, but from seeing anything else he has to say.

Jay Sekulow today was talking about Bolton's manuscript, just what he's going to write in this book that's going to be put out for the entire world to see and here's what he said about it.


SEKULOW: If you want to call that evidence, I don't know what you'd call that. I'd call it inadmissible.


COATES: Well, he's calling it inaccurately. It actually would be admissible and here's the reason why that's actually not the real point of this. The real issue is whether it's relevant, whether it's going to be additive in some way or illuminate an issue and it certainly will do that. But even more than that, it's not this idea of whether he can have the manuscript or he testifies.

If Bolton were not available, I could see why you'd have an argument about the admissibility of the manuscripts. But he's available, he's willing and ready to testify. And so to have somebody say, this is an appropriate substitute is wrong, because the whole premise of not allowing these statements in or out of court statements are hearsay is because you can't test the person through cross examination.

But if you're able to have that person there, that's what you want to do. I wouldn't have somebody on the stand and say, I could have you or an officer's report. I want you.

BURNETT: I mean, it's pretty amazing, David, because of course what John Bolton is saying corroborates what many others have said, nearly a dozen witnesses. So in that sense, we already know. However, he's saying he had these conversations with the President of the United States directly.

And what we heard from some Republicans up to this point, Senator Marsha Blackburn among them was, so far all it's been is hearsay. And let me just play Senator Blackburn, this is her dismissing the evidence thus far saying it's all hearsay. Here she is.


SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): I don't think there was any stunning revelation yesterday, other than the fact that everybody in front of them had second, third, fourth or fifth hand knowledge.


BLACKBURN: They did not have direct knowledge.


BURNETT: OK. So that was before John Bolton. So then John Bolton comes out, firsthand account. You'd expect Senator Blackburn to be the first one, hey, hey, let's hear from him. Let's hear from him. Here's what she says now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think of witnesses, Senator Blackburn?

BLACKBURN: (Inaudible) witnesses.


BURNETT: Square that circle, David. I'm sorry, it's an impossible (inaudible) ...

AXELROD: Well, look, first of all, it isn't just Marsha Blackburn, but it was the President's own attorney who stood up and said it's all secondhand information. I mean, they really begged them to call witnesses with that argument.

But this, I mean, I really don't want to denigrate the United States Senate, but to a certain degree, this just isn't on the level. They're not looking for more evidence here that is going to make the final decision that they've already decided to make more difficult. And having Bolton is a complication and the White House certainly doesn't want it because the image of the President's aide talking about direct conversations with him make more vivid exactly what happened.

So this is an inconvenience for the Republicans. And I think there's going to be an enormous amount of pressure on those who have not committed to voting against witnesses in the next 72 hours and it's going to become a loyalty test for them with the President.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.

And next, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer joins me to respond to the breaking news that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he does not have the votes to prevent witnesses as of tonight. What is Schumer's vote count?


And we're learning Kobe Bryant was at church just before he got on that helicopter. How the NBA star found his faith?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it that simple?

BRYANT: God is great. Don't get no simpler than that, bro.




BURNETT: Breaking news, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warning senators in a closed-door meeting that he does not have the votes to block witnesses in the impeachment trial. But there is a new idea gaining steam among Republicans and it is to address John Bolton's claims before potentially calling him as a witness. So what they want to do is ask the White House National Security Council to turn over the manuscript of Bolton's book, where he reportedly claims President Trump told him that he was holding up aid to Ukraine until they investigated the Bidens. Here's how Republicans put it.


LANKFORD: Well, I'm recommending to the House or the White House to turn it over, put in one of the scripts here so we can go through it even while it's going through classification process, we can read all of it and see for ourselves if there's anything significant there.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Senator Lankford has suggested making the manuscript available in a classified setting and let senators go read it for themselves. That sounds like a reasonable solution to me.



BURNETT: OUTFRONT now Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

And, Senator, I want to get to the idea about the Bolton manuscript and whether senators should be allowed to read it before voting on witnesses in a moment. But, first, the breaking news. Majority Leader McConnell we know is saying he does not have the votes right now to block witnesses.

Based on your count, is that accurate or is he using a scare tactic to motivate his caucus?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Well, I think it's a little bit of each. I do think there are a lot of Republicans, more than four or five, who are really troubled by the fact that the president is not allowing witnesses and documents. They know that a fair trial needs witnesses and documents and they know also the constituencies across America, the American people, know that these witnesses are President Trump's own people. These are not Democratic plants or anything like that.

On the other hand, you can't underestimate the pressure that Donald Trump, who can be vindictive and nasty when you oppose him and Mitch McConnell who has just become a total Trump -- he executes whatever Trump wants -- will put on these members.

So, I think it's up in the air. Is there a chance that we might get a vote to allow witnesses and documents? Yes. But is it also an uphill fight and I wouldn't do any dances -- joy dances now? Yes, I would not.

BURNETT: So, you've obvious pounded the table that you need those four Republican senators. Do you actually think that when push comes to shove, if you get a yes vote on witnesses, Senator Schumer, that it will be more than four?

SCHUMER: It could be. There are ten to 12 Republicans who have never said a bad word about witnesses or documents who are know in their hearts it's the right thing to do. But they have to weigh that against the pressure, the twisting of arms, that Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell will put on them. So, I think it's up in the air right now.

Are we feeling better today than we did a few days ago? Absolutely. The Bolton revelations are stark. And when Mr. Sekulow gets up and says one of the reasons that you should vote to acquit is we don't have any eyewitness accounts and at the same time the man he's representing, Donald Trump, is preventing those eyewitnesses, they lose a lot of ground.

BURNETT: So, I want to ask you now about the idea I referenced, Senator Lankford proposing letting senators read Bolton's book manuscript. Putting it in a classified room --

SCHUMER: I think it's an absurd idea.

BURNETT: How come?

SCHUMER: First of all, two reasons, why does everything have to be in secret? What part are they afraid? This is going to be a book, 99 percent of it is not classified.

And it's outrageous that Republicans keep going around and suggesting things be done in secret. They're afraid of the truth.

But second, even if the manuscript were read publicly, that is not the same as a live witness swearing an oath and then being asked questions and cross examined. So, we think that that, you know, we're not against it. But it is no substitute. First we would be against doing any of it in secret.

But second even with the full manuscript, it's no substitute for a live witness. That's what we're for.

BURNETT: So, Trump's legal team today, as you well know, they're making two points. On one hand, they're trying to say he didn't do it. On the other, they're saying even if he did all of it, it's not impeachable. That's the Alan Dershowitz argument he's making. Some Senate Republicans said it gave them peace of mind.

So, today, we heard Sekulow echoing it. Here's the argument.


ALAN DERSHOWITZ, TRUMP IMPEACHMENT ATTORNEY: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.

JAY SEKULOW, OUTSIDE LEGAL COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: If a president, any president, were to have done what "The Times" reported about the content of John Bolton's manuscript, that would not constitute an impeachable offense.


SCHUMER: I think they're dead wrong. You know, if you read the history of the founding fathers -- and I remember reading this in high school. One of the things the Founding Fathers were most afraid of was foreign interference in our elections. That is serious, serious stuff. It's one of the worse things a president can do because look at it this way, Erin, if Americans no longer believe that we, the American people, determine who is our president, who is our governor, who is our senator, who is our Congress member, and we think a foreign leader can interfere and jaundice our elections and skew them, we'll lose faith in our whole democracy.

Americans don't want foreigners interfering, and that's what Trump tried to blackmail -- at least if you believe the House manager's strong case -- that's just what Trump tried to do to blackmail Ukraine to interfere in our election. That is one of the highest of crimes and misdemeanors in the eyes of the Founding Fathers.

BURNETT: And that may be, but the argument is tailored to the ten or 12 Republicans you're talking about, right?


BURNETT: Republicans who say, OK, we know the facts.


BURNETT: Like Rich Lowry wrote today, right?


The well-known conservative columnist.

We know the facts. This gives him an out of saying he did it, but it's not impeachable.

Do you think that will resonate with some moderate Republicans you're targeting?

SCHUMER: Look, if they're looking for an excuse, absolutely. I do think if you read the history, look at what the Founding Fathers said, then the bottom line is this does merit impeachment. They talked about it. Foreign interference in elections is one of the things they talked about in terms of impeachment.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Senator Schumer, I appreciate your time as always, sir. Thank you.

SCHUMER: Thank you, Erin. Nice to talk to you. Bye-bye.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, Republican Senator John Barrasso responds live to what you just heard from Senator Schumer. Does he think that he could lose 10 to 12 Republicans on the witness vote?

And the NTSB just holding a press conference right now. They're revealing new details about the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and nine others.



BURNETT: Breaking news, the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer just telling me he believes up to a dozen Republican senators may be open to supporting witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, making it clear he wasn't just thinking about four or five who are troubled by the situation, but 10 to 12 could be open to it.

And this coming just hours after Trump's defense team wrapped up its opening arguments. And now, we're just hours away from the question and answer period. That is going to begin tomorrow.

OUTFRONT now, the third ranking Republican in the Senate and the chairman of the Senate Republican conference, Senator John Barrasso.

I appreciate your time. It's great to have you with me, Senator Barrasso.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Thank you, Erin. Thank you.

BURNETT: I wanted to give you a chance to respond to Minority Leader Schumer. I don't know if you heard him there, but he says he believes there are 10 to 12 senators in your conference that could be open to voting for witnesses. Is he right?

BARRASSO: No, he's not right at all. The momentum in our conference is clearly to moving to final judgment. The House made its case primarily yesterday and today, it was a strong case, it was compelling, it was concise. They used less than half the amount of the time that the House did the last couple of days.

So, I'm very comfortable with where we are. I think we have a very strong case. We need to get back to the work of the American people, and why we have the momentum moving to say we've heard enough. We can make an informed decision and judgment. Let's vote.

BURNETT: So, I don't know if you heard senator Schumer, he was saying Majority Leader McConnell's comments when he told other Republicans he doesn't have the votes to block witnesses. That partly he felt, Schumer felt that was true and partly, that was McConnell trying to motivate his caucus to get everybody in line. So, you clearly think it was motivational and not reality?

BARRASSO: I think there are still some members that want to spend time -- and we will eight hours tomorrow and eight hours the next day -- listening to the answers to the questions of both the House as well as the White House's cases and hear what we have to say. We have lots of questions, over 100 questions probably on both sides.

People want to hear that. But ultimately when it comes around to Friday, and it's time to decide, should we move to a final judgment, I believe that is what will happen at that time, and then a vote to acquit President Trump.

And it's interesting on the Senate floor visiting with other colleagues, I think there are some Democrats who also will vote to acquit. And tonight, "The Los Angeles Times" even had a story that Dianne Feinstein, the senator from California has said she is leaning in that direction. And she was chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

BURNETT: I saw that, Senator.

BARRASSO: She was there during Bill Clinton's -- BURNETT: I saw that too, Senator. And she's disputing that saying she

was misunderstood and that's not what she was saying. I just want to make sure you know that. Other than her, when you say there are other Democrats you're talking to who may acquit, like who, how many?

BARRASSO: Well, there are a couple and Senator Schumer can deal with his colleagues, but I will tell you the president will not be removed from office and it's time to get this behind us, so we can get on with the important work of the American people.

We need to lower the cost of insulin for diabetics. I'm from Wyoming. I chair the Highway Committee, the Roads, Bridges, Highways, the Environment and Public Works Committee. We need to get a highway bill done. We need to help our veterans.

There are so many things we cannot get to as long as impeachment is going on. And to open this up to additional witnesses and time and dragging this out just hurts the ability of the country to move forward.

BURNETT: So, let me just ask you a question though. In the concept of I know you and I and everybody else cares about honesty, right? So, you have all these witnesses that said the president did something that he says he didn't do. Now you have a person, John Bolton, who says he had conversations with the president where the president told him to do what all those other witnesses are also saying. And this is "the New York Times" manuscript that I'm referring to.


BURNETT: And today, President Trump's former chief of staff and retired Marine General John Kelly said, quote, if John Bolton says that in the book, referring to a quid pro quo, no aid unless -- I believe John Bolton.

All right. So, that's what John Kelly says. If John Bolton says that in the book, I believe John Bolton. Do you believe John Bolton?

BARRASSO: Whether you do or don't, even if all those things are true, and Professor Dershowitz is here, I know he's coming up to be your next guest, these still do not raise to the level of impeachable offenses.

This impeachment is completely partisan and political and impeachment wasn't supposed to be done that way. We are at a point where they're starting to vote in Iowa on Monday. We are in an election year. Let the American people decide who they want to be their president. A hundred members of the United States Senate should not make that decision.

And this doesn't just try to overturn the election of 2016. This removes President Trump from the ballot in 2020. So, it interferes with that election as well.

(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: But they would have to move to do that obviously in addition to what they've done. But can I just ask you the question about Alan Dershowitz? Because that is a point, I know there are some, Senator, in your caucus who are saying he did it but it's not impeachable, right? And they seize on Alan Dershowitz's testimony to make that argument.

The other constitutional law expert who has spoken for the president, on behalf of the president, as you know, is Jonathan Turley, right? So, there's Alan Dershowitz and Jonathan Turley. Alan Dershowitz says there has to be a crime to impeachment. Jonathan Turley who spoke on behalf of the president said that that's dead wrong. Here's what he just said the other day.


JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW EXPERT: Mind you, it's clear, you can impeach a president for abuse of power. You can impeach a president for non-criminal conduct. It's just not easy. What's fascinating to me is the White House built its case so solidly around a theory that is so widely rejected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That there has to be a crime.

TURLEY: That there has to be a crime.


BURNETT: Does it give you pause that Alan Dershowitz may be the one on an island here?

BARRASSO: Well, I'm not a lawyer. I'm a physician. I came to Congress to help lower the cost of health care for the American public.

There are lots of things that we need to be doing so we can have all the dueling lawyers that you want. I think impeachment should never be partisan. It should not be political. And this has never happened until this impeachment.

And that, to me, is one of the greatest concerns that I have with regard to Ukraine where all this -- I've been to Ukraine multiple times. President Trump has done much more for the people of Ukraine and the freedom fighters there than the previous administration ever did.

So, when you take a look at what happened, the money didn't go, the -- there was never an announcement of investigation. And I think the president has a responsibility to fight corruption and make sure American taxpayer dollars are used wisely. And that's actually one of the questions that I'm going to be asking and posing during the question period tomorrow.

BURNETT: All right. Well, I appreciate your time, senator. Thank you very much.

BARRASSO: Thanks for having me. BURNETT: Thank you.

BARRASSO: We're going to hear from a priest who was with Kobe Bryant just hours before that crash that took the NBA star's life.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was holy water on his forehead, so I knew he had gone into the chapel to pray.


BURNETT: And an American father trapped with his wife and newborn at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak as the number of people killed by the virus is growing.



BURNETT: Breaking news. The NTSB just giving a horrible update on the helicopter crash that killed NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others. The NTSB is saying at this hour that helicopter was only 20 to 30 feet from clearing the mountain. That is the mountain that it, of course, fatally crashed into. But only 20 to 30 feet away from actually clearing it and continuing safely.

That chilling and horrible update coming as the world continues to mourn the loss of Bryant. His former teammate, Shaquille O'Neal, spoke of his love for Bryant today and also mourned a conversation they'll never get to have.


SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, FORMER NBA PLAYER: We're not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony. We're not going to be able to say I got five, you got four. The fact that we're not going to be able to say if we could have stayed together, we would have got ten. Those are things that you can't get back.


BURNETT: And we are learning more about the last few hours of Bryant's life, including where he went before he got on that helicopter. A visit to his church to pray.

Brooke Baldwin is OUTFRONT.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, new video showing the helicopter carrying NBA star Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others, captured on camera near minutes before crashing in the hills of Calabasas, taking the lives of everyone on board. Investigators are scouring the crash site for clues, working all hours

to find answers. Just hours before the flight, Bryant and his daughter spent that Sunday morning at church.

FATHER STEVE SALLOT, OUR LADY QUEEN OF ANGELS: He just came here as a person of faith and he prayed. He prayed along with the rest of us.

BALDWIN: Father Steve Sallot spoke to Bryant that morning.

SALLOT: There was holy water on his forehead. So, I knew that he got into the chapel to pray, and came out and blessed himself and then we spoke for a minute, shook hands and off he went.

BALDWIN: He and his daughter, Gigi, received communion there that morning before leaving to board the helicopter. Bryant, a life long Catholic, regularly attended church often at Our Lady of Queen of Angels in Newport Beach with this family.

SALLOT: He was quite a man of faith, quiet about it, but certainly a man of faith.

BALDWIN: That faith is credited for changing his life after being charged with sexual assault in 2003. Bryant denied sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman but admitted the two had sex. He says it was consensual. The charges were eventually dropped and Bryant settled a civil suit in 2005.

He told "GQ" in 2015 speaking to a priest is what helped him through those difficult times, saying the priest told him to, quote: Let it go. Move on. God is not going to give you anything you can't handle and it's in his hands now. This is something you can't control. So let it go. And that was the turning point.

A point he made in an interview with ESPN when he was asked what he learned from that time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it that simple?

BRYANT: God is great. Don't get no simpler than that, bro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you know that? I mean, everybody knows that. But the way you know it now, did you know it before that incident took place?

BRYANT: You can know it all you want. But until you've got to pick up that cross that you can't carry and he picks it up for you and carries you and the cross, then you know.



BALDWIN: And all around me tonight, hundreds of fans -- I've been here since Sunday. This memorial has tripled in size. Fans here scribbling on every square inch of this plaza, including the concrete floor beneath them. Tonight would have been the first Lakers home game since the crash. Instead, fans are here for a much different reason, mourning the loss of a man whose mamba mentality lives on -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Brooke, thank you very much. Powerful reporting.

And next, the death toll from the flu, Wuhan flu rising tonight as we hear from American father stuck in Wuhan right at the center of the virus.


BURNETT: Breaking news, the death toll for the deadly Wuhan virus growing tonight, now claiming more than 130 lives, as reported.

It comes as there's a growing concern for those who are still in Wuhan, right, a city of 11 million. Originally, that includes Justin Steece, a veteran, his wife, Ling, and their newborn son.

Earlier, we spoke to Justin.


JUSTIN STEECE: My biggest thing is I'm worried somebody might not have their mask on or something might have happened earlier to where something is infected and we didn't know about it and one of us gets sick and transferring it to our son.


BURNETT: A newborn.

We're going to continue to update you on that important story.

Anderson starts now.