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Bernie Sanders Surges Ahead In Iowa, NH Polls; Interview with Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) About John Bolton Being Called As A Witness For The Trial; Key GOP Senators: Bolton Claims Strengthen Case For Witnesses; Trump To Unveil Middle East Peace Plan Today. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 28, 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]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, in these first three contests and show strength in Super Tuesday and beyond, even if he doesn't clinch the nomination with delegates, he's going into the convention, David, with a boatload of delegates and maybe enough to present the first ballot winner. Yes?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Oh, John, I don't even know that he has to perform as well as you're suggesting to go the distance to the convention. Bernie Sanders is so well-financed, he has such a dedicated core of support, that is going to be very hard for those folks to think he should somehow get out of the race at some point. And obviously, he is performing well in the polls right now.

I do suspect that Bernie Sanders is going to -- no matter whether or not he ends up the nominee, I imagine he's going to go all the way to Milwaukee. And you're right. Listen, I think we have to think about this differently than we thought about 2016 with Bernie Sanders, as well. That was basically a two-person race. The fact that this is a multi-candidate field right now, and the fact that these delegates get awarded proportionally, remember, there is no winner-take-all contest on the Democratic side.

BERMAN: Right.

CHALIAN: So, as long as you're getting 15 percent in these States or in congressional districts, you're accumulating delegates. And if that's splitting between a bunch of people, I mean, that is the scenario of getting in Milwaukee and not necessarily having somebody with a majority of delegates on that first ballots.

BERMAN: So, let's look at the longest possible term here, finally, and we only have about 15 seconds left. What does the Trump campaign really think about Bernie Sanders? Do they fear Bernie; do they want Senator Sanders, do we know?

CHALIAN: Who are you asking about? I'm sorry. I couldn't hear you at the top of the question --

(CROSSTALK) BERMAN: The Trump campaign.

CHALIAN: Oh, listen, you see that the Trump campaign has gotten a little more involved in talking about Bernie Sanders. I think that they, in their most honest moments, believe that the label they want to paint every democrat with, this notion of socialism, of taking the country far to the left, that there's no better example of that. Then, Bernie Sanders if he's the nominee. They think he's their best contrast to post up against.

BERMAN: David Chalian, thank you so much for walking through all of this with me. A real treat to get to talk to you.

CHALIAN: Sure.

BERMAN: Six days to the Iowa caucus.

CHALIAN: Six days. Thanks, John.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You are so excited when I let you, just alone, talk to David Chalian, and you don't have to share him.

BERMAN: I mean, it's really my dream.

CAMEROTA: I could see that.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Yeah. I don't want to share David with you.

CAMEROTA: I haven't seen you this excited, well, for a long time. We are getting closer to that crucial vote in the impeachment trial. Will the Senate call witnesses like John Bolton? One of the House impeachment managers will tell us where things stand.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:35:00]

CAMEROTA: Two key Republican Senators appear willing to call former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify in light of the revelations in his forthcoming book, "What About the Rest?"

Joining us now, one of the seven House impeachment managers, Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida. Good morning, Congresswoman.

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Good morning. It's good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: Good to have you. From where you sit, did anything significantly shift in the impeachment trial yesterday after the revelations from Bolton's book?

DEMINGS: Let me just say yesterday was quite the interesting day. I mean, we all heard the bombshell news about Ambassador Bolton, what was alleged in his transcript, directly, where he directly says that he had a direct conversation with the President about withholding aid regarding the bogus investigations and interference in the 2016 election, but we went through hours of the President's lawyers presentation before they even brought up his name. And so, I would think that there is no senator or should not be a senator in that chamber, who after hearing this information from that Ambassador Bolton may have, would not want to hear his testimony.

CAMEROTA: Well, our reporting is that behind the scenes, Republicans were scrambling to deal with this unwanted surprise that they got from the Bolton book, but it sounds like you couldn't see evidence of that unfolding.

DEMINGS: I couldn't -- no, I could not see evidence of that unfolding. And look, if they were scrambling behind the scenes, they probably should be. Because what I did here was that this was information that they were not even aware of. Although, it certainly appears the White House was aware of it. So, if -- you know, the senators took an oath to administer impartial justice.

There are judges in this case, I believe they remember the initial oath they took, they remember the impartial justice oath they took, and there are is no way that they could vote against someone who is a key witness, someone who served as the President -- was appointed by the President as his national security adviser. And I would think that they would want to hear what John Bolton has to say.

CAMEROTA: Well, it sounds like some are open to it. But it also sounds as though they want something in exchange. And Senator Pat Toomey is basically saying -- our reporting is that he's considering a one-to- one swap. And so, OK, you get Bolton, give us Biden, let's say, is that still a dealbreaker for Democrats?

DEMINGS: Well, you know what, those are decisions that are certainly made above my pay grade. And I expect that there will be some negotiate -- negotiating going on. I don't have a problem with that. But let's stay focused. The President's team has tried to distort, deflect, make us not believe what is painfully right before our eyes, what we've heard with our ears.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

[07:39:59]

DEMINGS: And so, the investigation, this trial should stay focused on material witnesses, not alternative facts, but facts that do not change, and witnesses that we call should have relevance. The American people do not want us to turn this into a circus. And I don't think the majority of the senators want us to. So, it should be relevant that they will negotiate the final list of witnesses.

CAMEROTA: But to be clear, when you just said, I don't have a problem with that, you don't have a problem with Hunter Biden coming?

DEMINGS: No, that's not what I said. What I said was I don't have a problem with them negotiating because they should be able to do that. I would expect that they would go through that process, but it needs to be fair, balanced, and reasonable so the American people will hear the truth, not some made-up smoke and mirrors story about the President's call being perfect because we all know that it was not.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, just tactically speaking, are you afraid of being outmaneuvered by the Republicans because if they say, OK, we'll give you Bolton, give us Biden. When Democrats say no, we don't want that. Then, Republicans get the talking point of we offered?

DEMINGS: We will cross that bridge when we get to it. But let me say this, we have a witness who worked in the President's administration, appointed by the president, who says he has something to say, who defined the President's scheme as a drug deal. That one should not be debatable.

CAMEROTA: Alan Dershowitz made an interesting argument yesterday, he basically said, Yes, OK. If the President was exchanging military aid for a political favor, it's still not impeachable. Let me play for you Alan Dershowitz.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman, how do you respond to that?

DEMINGS: You know, let me just say this, if the president's lawyers really believe that, they would have started, I believe, presenting the case with that line. We've gone from President did nothing wrong, the call was perfect, to there was no quid pro quo, to well, if I did do it, so what? The American people are not going to fall for that.

The House managers certainly are not going to fall for that. And I would expect the senators not to fall for that. They are jurors, as I said in this -- or judges in this case. We're in the presence of the Supreme Court Justice, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, I would expect for all of us to seek the truth, seek the whole truth, present the facts, not some bogus made-up stories so we can move on. Our job is to protect the Constitution and uphold the rule of law. And I'm going to do my job.

CAMEROTA: So, as you stand there this morning, is it your sense that there are enough senators, given the Bolton revelations, it will have come around, and we'll vote to hear from witnesses.

DEMINGS: I mean, we'll find out -- you know, we'll find that out. But I just believe that these senators, no matter how much -- how much smoke and mirrors you present to them, would want to hear from a witness who has direct firsthand knowledge based on a conversation that he directly had about this topic with the President of the United States.

And so, I would expect, like I said early on, when others were saying, well, we don't know where this is going to end up. The President is going to be acquitted. The sin is not going. I always said I am not giving up on the Senate because these are men and women who took an oath, and I expect them to abide by it.

CAMEROTA: One last thing that I want to get you to weigh in on and that is Senator Joni Ernst, who basically said yesterday, she's quite interested in how this will play, politically. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): Iowa caucuses are this next Monday evening, and I'm really interested to see how this discussion today informs and influences the Iowa caucus voters; those democratic caucus goers, will they be supporting Vice President Biden at this point? Now, it starts --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: She was smiling as she said that. It sounds like she seems to think that this will hurt Joe Biden.

DEMINGS: Well, I'm not going to comment about -- directly about Senator Ernst's comments, but let me say this, the President has gotten himself in this entire mess, because Joe Biden announced his candidacy for President of the United States. And isn't it interesting that when Ukraine was asked to do a bogus investigation into the Bidens, when Ukraine was asked to spread a bogus, untrue narrative about interference in 2016 election, they resisted it.

[07:45:04]

But if you've been listening to the presentation over the last few days, it appears that the bogus investigations and narrative that Ukraine rejected that we have people within the United States who are trying to make up for lost time. And so, I'm going to stay focused. We know that that narrative has been debunked. I'm going to stay focused on the work before me.

CAMEROTA: Congressman -- woman Val Demings, we really appreciate you taking the time to be on NEW DAY. Thank you.

DEMINGS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: John?

BERMAN: President Trump will unveil his long-awaited Middle East Peace Plan today. So, why does our next guest call the plan and its rollout diplomatic malpractice. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:49:57]

CAMEROTA: President Trump's lawyers have been described as slick, polished and well-prepared as they presented their case Monday. But how did they fare when it came to the facts. John Avlon has our reality check. John, what's the answer?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: But truth was in short supply at the impeachment trial yesterday. In its place was a surreal parade of denial, lies, and gaslighting. But denial is how the defense dealt with John Bolton's upcoming book ,which says that Trump told him that aid to Ukraine would be withheld until it announced an investigation into the Bidens.

Now, this destroys a key defense talking point. They decided to ignore it until the very last hour, adopting the approach of "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil." Now, the delay prompted Republican turned Independent Congressman Justin Amash to tweet, "The defense team strategy rests on pretending that news doesn't exist."

But if that seemed like gaslighting to you, wait until you see who the defense decided to open the day with, Ken Starr, who condemned with a straight face the age of impeachment that he helped usher in. Now, that didn't give you whiplash. The Trump defense team, again, essentially ignored the evidence against him and instead, argued about process and repeated nonsense like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The record that the House Democrats collected through that process already shows that the President did nothing wrong; it already exonerates the President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: They dismissed Rudy Giuliani as a colorful distraction, while piling on hours of distraction in the form of attacks on Joe Biden, repeating the lie that he pressed for the firing of Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son's business interests. And saying that President Trump was motivated solely by his deep desire to combat corruption.

But the facts don't back that up. Now, Biden was acting in accordance with official U.S. policy in coordination with our allies, and at the request of Republican Senators, to press for the removal of a corrupt prosecutor who was investigating Burisma or corruption overall.

And even if combating corruption was President Trump's goal, it's odd because he never mentioned the word corruption in his call with Ukraine. His budget proposed cutting billions of dollars devoted to fighting corruption.

This is all just project and deflect, a signature move to make people think that everyone in politics is corrupt and lies as much as the President does. But check out this analysis of Trump's public mentions of Biden by fact base, because it shows that Trump didn't really start fixating on the former veep until Biden announced that he was running for president in April of 2019.

See that spike? And then, polls showed that he was the toughest for Trump to beat. But the big reveal came in the last presentation when Bolton's bombshell made its first and only appearance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Now, this is a glimpse of the final argument, that even if the President has been lying this whole time, even if he did illegally withhold the military aid to pressure a foreign power to investigate a domestic political rival, it doesn't matter. The last defense seems to be "so what?" facts and evidence don't matter because alternative facts can always be found.

The American people's opinion doesn't matter. And historic precedent doesn't matter. All that matters is that the President is in power, and his party controls the Senate. But if there's any independence and integrity left, then it's time for some senators to ask whether this is really what it means to make America great again. And that's your reality check.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: So, a few hours from now, President Trump will reveal his administration's long-awaited peace plan for the Middle East, that's alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian groups are already denouncing the plan, claiming that they weren't even consulted. I want to bring in CNN Global Affairs Analyst Aaron David Miller.

He served as the State Department's Middle East negotiator under Republican and Democratic administrations. And Aaron, I don't know where to begin, because there's breaking news on this front, which is that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was just officially indicted on these corruption charges that have been hanging over him. This has been a long process, but now it's official.

So, you have an indicted Prime Minister meeting with an impeached President to talk about a peace plan, which one side says they weren't even consulted on. You write, "Even in our most incompetent moments, never came close to that of Trump's peace team. Releasing a plan untethered from anything other than politics six weeks before Israel's third election within a year and without regard to Palestinians, takes diplomatic malpractice to new levels."

If I can, I want to separate things and start with the plan and so far as we know the details with the political reality and reasoning behind introducing it today. So, the plan, we don't know everything about it, but we know it only provides conditional autonomy to the Palestinians. Most of Jerusalem stays with the Israelis. The Israelis keep settlements and whatnot. The contours of the plan itself and so far as you know, what do you make of them?

[07:55:03]

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, I think it's clearly oriented toward the Israelis. Mr. Netanyahu would not be hawking it so intensively, nor would he show up in Washington to have it announced in the company of the President. So, I think basically, John, it's really not an operational document, it's a vision. And I think I was mistaken. It's really not diplomatic malpractice. It's driven in large part and tethered to the President's persona and his own personal politics.

Number one, I think they would like to have Mr. Netanyahu around in November to help with evangelicals, Conservative Republicans, and what percentage of the American Jewish community they can shave off for the Democrats.

That's one. Number two, there was never a good time to release this, and if they waited for a new Israeli government, they may be waiting until May or June or another Israeli election, and that is going deep into the electoral clock. And then, I think there really is the vanity piece of this. Mr. Kushner who's largely presided over it shepherded through now three years. It's reported to be 60 to 80 pages long, nothing -- United States has never done anything quite like this.

And I think in a way, this demonstrates a certain measure of proof of life. So the fact is, while it has zero chances of succeeding in terms of setting into motion, a negotiation or inspiring confidence between Israelis and Palestinians, it may well serve the political objectives of the administration and of Mr. Netanyahu.

BERMAN: I asked you to wait to talk about the political implications here; the idea that the President is an impeached President with a now-indicted Prime Minister up for reelection, but you're suggesting that you really can't divorce the two, that the Trump administration and the White House is proposing this today, you say, to help Netanyahu in the reelection. This is about Israeli electoral politics. Explain.

MILLER: Yes. And I -- you know, I think it will help shore up the right-wing. There are maybe 200,000 voters that Mr. Netanyahu lost between the April and September elections. He'd like to get them back. Mr. Gantz is going to be hard pressed to oppose this if it lays the basis for annexation of large settlements blocks, which are consensus among most Israelis, and setting Israel's eastern border however harmful it will be for the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty.

Most Israelis would be supportive of that. So, in a close election, as my grandmother used to say about her chicken soup, it probably wouldn't hurt. And I think the administration has made that calculation whether it's accurate or not, John, is another matter. Remember, two Israeli elections, a third within a year, both producing inconclusive results with Mr. Netanyahu losing ground.

BERMAN: And very quickly, what do you think there were reaction will be from Arab nations in the region?

MILLER: To sum it up in one sentence, the Palestinians will say no, probably, hell no. The Israelis will say, yes, but -- and there probably will be key Arab states, the Saudis, the Emirates, that will probably, in the interest of not alienating their key patron, Mr. Trump will work to find a way to say maybe, but this is going to sit, John, through the elections, for sure. It's not ready for primetime, even though in several hours, it's definitely coming out.

BERMAN: Aaron David Miller, we always appreciate your help understanding these things. Thanks for being here.

MILLER: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For U.S. -- CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster is next for our U.S. viewers. A new report, new information coming out about what is in John Bolton's book. How will this rattle the White House this morning? NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bolton's book is further evidence that a large number of people were, quote, in the loop on this scheme.

GIULIANI: Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like war, impeachment is hell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think witnesses who are not eyewitness to what happened shouldn't be part of this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hunter Biden's activities created a conflict of interest for Joe Biden.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These guys were attacking me and my family. Well guess what? I don't hold grudges because presidents can't hold grudges.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: Morning, everyone. Welcome to your new day. It is Tuesday, January 28. Eight o'clock in the east and Capitol Hill. Sources say the pressure is building on Senate Republicans to allow witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial. CNN has learned that former National Security Advisor John Bolton's claims that President Trump personally tied the military aid to Ukraine to his own political favors blindsided GOP lawmakers. This morning there are new allegations from Bolton's manuscript. This of course from his upcoming book.