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Hong Kong Restricts Travel from Mainland China; Dershowitz Argues for Nearly Unchallenged Presidential Power; Republicans Confident They Have Votes to Block Witnesses; Paul Frustrated After Roberts Rejects His Whistleblower Question; Biden Set to Make Closing Pitch to Iowa Voters; Vanessa Bryant Breaks Silence on Death of Kobe and Gianna. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired January 30, 2020 - 07:00   ET



WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Almost 300 people died in the city because of SARS, which explains why we sought three-hour wait outside of one of the few stores in town that still have face masks left, the surgical face mask that people are wearing because it gives them some feeling at least to protection against this even though health officials aren't exactly sure how effective those masks are. But for Hong Kongers who, you know, live through in epidemic, in outbreak that shutdown this city's economy 17 years ago, they know real and how serious this could be. And they also know that we are right here on the front lines in Hong Kong despite the measures that are being taken.

I saw the high speed rail line entrances closed and locked today, you know, no passengers coming from Mainland China. Flights have been canceled or cut back. They've closed the bridge that connects Hong Kong with the Mainland. And yet all of these measures really do little to comfort people who are so afraid right now of what could happen.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No doubt. They probably make people even more scared. And I know they are frustrated as well. Will Ripley, thank you so much for your reporting.

The jaw dropping defense of the President that really could redefine the country. NEW DAY continues right now.


ALAN DERSHOWITZ, CONSTITUTIONALIST LAWYER: Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That doesn't give you license to commit crimes.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): All quid pros are not the same. Some are legitimate and some are corrupt. And you don't need to be a mind reared to figure out which is which.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is on the brink of having the votes to defeat that motion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Democrats get their wish to call witness John Bolton, we'll call on Hunter Biden, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still an uphill battle to get witnesses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would really welcome a bipartisan acquittal of President Trump. And I want to get that done this week, Friday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My gut tells me we're making progress, progress, progress. I certainly am hopeful.


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

BERMAN: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world, this is NEW DAY. And this morning, it's not exactly clear where the votes are on key parts of the President's impeachment trial. Will the Senate vote to hear witnesses, including John Bolton? Not clear yet.

What is clear is that the argument has gone beyond witnesses, beyond Donald Trump, beyond even impeachment. The argument now largely because of the words from the President's own team, it's now about the presidency and the country in general. Are there any limits, any at all on presidential power? More on that in a second.

First today, we will seek questions and answers on the Senate floor and continue to action off the floor. There is a new back and forth between John Bolton, his lawyers and the White House. A letter sent to Bolton's attorney and obtained by CNN, in that the White House claims that Bolton's forthcoming book contains top secret classified information and can't be published.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's legal team offered up this head spinning defense during the first day of the question and answer phase. Alan Dershowitz claims that a president can do anything because his own political agenda is somehow the same as the public interest. Listen.


DERSHOWITZ: For a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment.


CAMEROTA: Let's talk about this. We want to bring Bianna Golodryga, CNN's Senior Global Affairs Analyst, Charlie Dent CNN Political Commentator and former Republican congressman and CNN Political Commentator Joe Lockhart, he was the White House Press Secretary during President Clinton's impeachment.

Congressman Dent, Alan Dershowitz is arguing for unchecked presidential power. The President can do anything in his own political agenda because that is somehow, in Alan Dershowitz' mind, synonymous with the national interests.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I tell you, I learned something new that you can engage in quid pro quo. That is the quid being an official act in exchange for something that benefits you, your campaign. Somebody should tell Chris Wray at the FBI, people go to jail for that including the former mayors in Allentown and Reading are sitting in jail for that reason.

I think this is stunning. Every member of Congress knows you cannot exchange an official act for personal or campaign benefit. Absolutely prohibited. I mean, I -- again it's stunning, it is jaw dropping. I don't have the benefit of a Harvard legal education, but I can tell you what any politician worth its salt knows they cannot engage in this kind of conduct. This is a standard that crosses all lines, but really somebody got to get Chris Wray on the record, the Department of Justice on this one.

BERMAN: It really opens the door to a staggering degree of actions. Any President who thinks that getting reelected will be good for America can do anything, unless you think that Dershowitz misspoke there. He elaborated on his point. He went into greater depth on that point. Just listen to a little bit more.


DERSHOWITZ: But a complex middle case is I want to be elected. I think I'm a great president. I think I'm the greatest president there ever was, and if I'm not elected the national interest we'll suffer greatly. That can not be an impeachable offense.



BERMAN: That cannot be an impeachable offense. You can do anything. And Bianna, I do wonder, no matter how they're going to vote on witnesses, how they're going to vote on impeachment. Don't these Republican senators, all the senators have to stand up today and say, that argument is crazy, that argument is dangerous, forget this moment, let's think about the next hundred years of this country.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know there are moments there at this impeachment trial where you wish there are cameras and you could see the senator's faces, and that was definitely one of those moments last night just to see their reaction.

Look, it's clear what you see from Dershowitz and his creative way and the Trump defense team overall that they're trying to normalize the President's actions, his behavior. That this is a dispute over policy, the President is thinking this is best for the country. Remember, what we had heard from all of the fact witnesses, there was nothing normal about what transpired and none of it related to policy.

Dershowitz also kept bringing up an example of withholding aid from Israel. Let's say the U.S. President said I don't like you continuing your settlement building so we're going to withhold aid. That is a policy disagreement. That is something that's brought up with Congress. None of that happen this time around.

And there were plenty of senators who asked questions, why did the President not bring this up with Congress if he was concerned about policy? And his lawyers didn't have a great answer for that, because this was something that he did behind closed doors, via an alternative channel Rudy Giuliani.

BERMAN: Can I say one thing? The case Dershowitz was making wasn't exactly because it's best for the country. The case he was making was because he's best for the country and that's where it's staggering and dangerous. Because a President who thinks that he is best for the country can do anything.

CAMEROTA: He knows best.

BERMAN: Right.


BERMAN: He knows best that no matter what he does, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt.

CAMEROTA: Well, only that I'm sure President Clinton thought that he was best for the country and that not telling the truth about an extra mar tam affair would be best for the country, not to the know those details, but it didn't go that way then.

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, it didn't go that way and the president didn't take that position. He took the position that he did something and he apologized and he took responsibility.

On the issue of how Republicans reacted, every single one of them, three different times yesterday walked by a camera on the way in and out of that session. Not a single one of them raised an issue about this crazy theory. The really dangerous part -- I worked on a whole bunch of campaigns as Charlie has, and you face that dilemma, you know, almost every day. Which is you really want to win. You really believe in your guy.

Should you push the envelope? Should you break the law? And 99.9 percent of people say no, that's wrong. Much on a macro basis, this is -- remember Trump said, only I can solve these problems. He has had these authoritarian hints.

This is the logic of dictators. This is the logic of saying, I'm going to wipe out people because it's in my interest but because I am above the people and only I know what's in the public interest, it's OK. It is a staggeringly dangerous precedent to set and not a single Republican has said I disagree.

BERMAN: Tim Scott came out late last night.


BERMAN: He was going to vote for, you know, his going to vote for acquittal, he's not going to vote for witnesses. He made it seem like he was uncomfortable when pressed with the Dershowitz argument. And I think that perhaps, maybe the Republicans will come out today and say they are. Because if they don't, again, the long-term implications really blow the mind.

Charlie, can we talk just a little bit about witnesses here? We seem to think it is -- and we can put this up on the screen, that Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, if you read their questions carefully, they're good questions. They seem to be leaning voting towards yes on witnesses. Lisa Murkowski maybe a yes on witnesses. Corey Gardner who's up for a tough re-election battle in Colorado to definite no. Martha McSally a definite no. And then there is Lamar Alexander who has given us no hint at all, zero.

Care to put yourself in a -- the checkered Lamar Alexander shirt and tell us how you think he's going to go?

DENT: Well, I think he should go yes. And he should be thinking about his legacy at this point. He doesn't have an election to worry about.

And I can't understand why they think -- anybody would think not having witnesses is a good idea other than that they want to get this thing over with. That's the only answer they got. And that's been the whole problem with this impeachment process from the get-go in the House Christmas arbitrary deadline, have to get it over, you know, to protect the vulnerable House Democrats. Get it off the agenda, same thing in the Senate. State of the union, let's get this thing behind us.

It makes no sense, but the problem is, more, you know, more stink bombs are going to be dropped. You know that. And then you don't want to be a swing state Republican having to defend that you voted against witnesses, when there are these revelations that are going to keep drink out, either through Bolton book or some other source. You know it's going to happen.

CAMEROTA: You know I've been telling John that I'm looking at Senator Rob Portman because he is interesting to me, because he along with Senator Ron Johnson back in 2016 agreed with Joe Biden that that prosecutor in Ukraine, Shokin, was corrupt and had to go. In fact, he, along with, I don't know, in a bipartisan letter sent it to President Poroshenko and said they had big concerns and felt, they urged him to reform the prosecutor's office because Shokin was so corrupt.


So when I listened yesterday to all of these questions coming from the Republican side about Joe Biden and why he did this and wasn't that a quid pro quo? Why they don't remember the letter that they send in 2016 about the very same thing that Joe Biden was trying to fight is just, again, a little head spinner.

GOLODRYGA: OK. It wasn't so long ago, right? And Rob Portman in particular had a real interest in Ukraine policy in making sure that this aid was delivered to Ukraine. He also at one point in his career was OMB director. So he understands how this process works and he understands what's usual and what is not unusual, what's abnormal. So it will be interesting to hear what other questions he may ask on this front.

But to go back to your point, we have in the past 72 hours have gone from Republicans saying, hey, Democrats you didn't do your job in the House and why should we go on fishing expeditions to having new information literally thrown at them and they're trying to deflect it. That's the game changer here.

So whether or not they want to hear that information and to hear more about it is different from saying we don't want to do your work for you because this is something that continues to break on a daily basis. And like you said, this book is going to come out soon. At some point we're going to continue to hear more and more coming out.

BERMAN: There was something that was going on behind the scenes yesterday that was fascinating and it involved the Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts. Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky, is apparently, according to our reporting from Phil Mattingly, Manu Raju trying to out the whistleblower --


BERMAN: -- on the Senate floor by perhaps writing a question that the Chief Justice would read out loud that includes the whistleblowers name. Rand Paul wants to out the whistleblower through the mouth of the Chief Justice of the United States. And the Chief Justice, apparently beforehand, has said he wouldn't do that. And there is now this conflict.

It's interesting that John Roberts has drawn a line. That's interesting in and of itself. What do you make of this?

LOCKHART: Well, you know, I think the Chief Justice was right. It would be I think a violation of law to reveal the name. And Chief Justice is not a good look for a chief justice to violate the law on national television one would think. I think Majority McConnell is keeping that question from getting there. But Rand Paul is going to keep pushing.

And it goes, though, to the broader point of, yesterday was a day in addition to Dershowitz of total dishonesty. Senator Cruz, especially, was pushing this idea of the Biden and Burisma connection. They kept saying, no one has debunked this theory.

Well if you go back to the House hearings, everyone debunk the theory. Everyone said, you know, particularly Dr. Hill said, Shokin was a problem. He was blocking an investigation of Burisma and by replacing him, by Joe Biden doing his job, he made it more likely that the company that his son was involved in would get would investigated. And with a straight face they continue to send question after question with, you know, conspiracy.

And it struck me at the end of the day that the happiest person in the world last night was Vladimir Putin. Because this is all the stuff that he wants to do to sew problems between the U.S. and the Ukraine, between Democrats and Republicans. And you know, we have the President's own lawyers on the floor of the Senate parodying Russian disinformation with a straight face. It's stunning.

CAMEROTA: Thank you all very much. Great to talk to you. Much more will happen today.

BERMAN: All right, Iowa, the Iowa caucus is four days away. And Joe Biden is giving a speech later today that tells you exactly what his strategy is in these closing moments. The embargo just broke in on some of these words. We'll tell you what he said and analyze them next.



BERMAN: Happening now, we're getting our first look at a speech that former Vice President Joe Biden will give today. And it shows us exactly what his closing argument is going into the caucuses on Monday.

Joining us now on the ground in Iowa to discuss or in the air as the case maybe, CNN Political Director David Chalian.

David, thanks, so much for being with us. Let me read you an excerpt of this speech that he will give, the former vice president in Iowa today. Because it's so explicit, he says, "Healthcare, climate, guns, national security, all these issues and more on the ballot. But something else is on the ballot. Something even more important, character is on the ballot. America's character."

The former vice president is going to say the issues are what's important here. Beating Donald Trump is and I'm the guy that can do it. That's his campaign in one sentence. What's the risk-reward there?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It is, John. And he -- well, he -- it's not that he says the issues aren't important. He says you can't accomplish what you want to accomplish on those issues. This is what he is telling Democratic voters unless a Democrat is elected to the White House. And he thinks he's the one best equipped to do that.

I think what you're seeing here is actually him closing out his campaign precisely where he started it. As you know, he launched this campaign talking about a battle for the sole of America. And that line, character is on the ballot is something he has said on the campaign trail.

Using the fact that Donald Trump is, also coming to Des Moines today, the President is holding a campaign rally this evening in Des Moines, Joe Biden wants to post up against the President. Not against Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. He wants the last argument. He's making the voters with four days to the caucuses to be about Biden versus Trump. He thinks that's his strongest turf.

[07:20:09] And what I think is so interesting here is that instead of just the explicit, I'm the one that will go in, look at the polls. He's had a lot of ads that show poll graphics like he electability, electability, straight ahead, here, he is bringing in that message he started with too, which is that you have to think about the character of the human being in the Oval Office. He wants that to be part of the closing message here in addition to the electability.

BERMAN: How have Joe Biden and the Biden campaign used impeachment in his -- what could be closing moments of the impeachment trial to lean into that argument?

CHALIAN: Well, it's really an interesting question, John. Because I don't think we're going to hear much about impeachment or pushing back on any of the attacks coming his way from the President and Republicans at this speech today, which indicates to me, he wants to get off of it.

Now, throughout this week, he's been trying to utilize it and turn into a positive, taking on Joni Ernst when she said that quiet part out loud urging people to look how voters respond in Iowa on Monday after Biden and his son Hunter Biden have been talked about with the Ukraine matter. He gladly pushed back on that, pushed back on the President.

But that's not where I think he wants to leave the campaign in voters' mind, which is why I think he's using this opportunity sort of leave impeachment aside and go to this other message. But he has tried to take what could have been a potential negative and at least make it a positive as best he can this week.

BERMAN: Now, there is an interesting conundrum for the Biden campaign, which is if Joe Biden wants to rile up Democratic voters against the President, rile up Democratic voters in general, if it's new caucus goers that are getting excited or younger caucus goers, that are getting excited, it isn't necessarily an advantage for Joe Biden?

CHALIAN: No, I think that's absolutely right, John. And I think you've pointed out to two of the key constituencies, if you will, sort of components of the electorate that we should be looking at on Monday. New caucus goers, is there a huge surge in first caucus goers and young voters? If those two groups show up in huge numbers, I would imagine Bernie Sanders is going to have a good night. That feeds directly into his strategy.

And this is why I've been thinking about -- and I see now today with this character argument Biden is bringing in another texture because I am wondering, if electability is just saying I'm the one to beat Trump, is that vote necessary and sufficient or is it just necessary but you also need to inspire folks with another piece of the message to make it sufficient to get over the hurdle here and come out first if Iowa?

BERMAN: I have 30 second left or you do, I should say. Elizabeth Warren, what's the reality that she faces going into Monday? CHALIAN: Well, you know, she is known to have one of the best if not the best organizations here. She invested so early here, John, put a lot of talented people on the ground and has been organizing this state for a year. So that could potentially pay dividends.

Her biggest problem as you know and you've been looking at the polls as I have and been watching what has happened on the trail, she's lost a lot of vote share among liberals to Bernie Sanders of late. And she needs to get that enthusiasm of liberals injected back into the blood stream of her campaign in order to get some life here and put that organization to work on Monday in a really important way for her.

BERMAN: David Chalian, our political director, I look forward to seeing you in Iowa. Hopefully, fairly soon. Thanks very much, David.

CAMEROTA: All right. Now to this, for the first time since the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his wife, Vanessa Bryant, is speaking out and sharing her grief. That's next.



CAMEROTA: The mayor of Los Angeles is offering the city's support to Kobe Bryant's widow Vanessa and the Lakers in planning a funeral and a memorial for the NBA legend. And Vanessa Bryant is reaching out to fans using a social media post to describe her grief.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live outside the Staples Center. Omar.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, I mean, Vanessa has stayed largely silent since this crash happened. Now close to four days ago, it was that until she posted an emotional statement to her Instagram along with a picture of her and her family detailing at points in that statement a pain that she says is indescribable, that, of course, extends to her husband Kobe and her daughter Gigi. But the seven others killed in these tragic crash again just days ago.

Now as the world continues to mourn the deaths of these nine that came so suddenly, the investigation continues and moves forward, to try and get closer to why this helicopter came down in the first place. Debris from the crash site just northwest of Los Angeles was taken to a facility in Arizona for further inspection and storage. And the NTSB says it will be a little over a week they are expected to release a preliminary report with more facts in regards to this investigation. But it won't be for months until they release their probable cause on this. But of course the center of this week has been the mourning and remembering the lives that were lost again so suddenly.

And the basketball world things have begun to move forward, creep forward in honoring in games across the NBA. But, of course, here in Los Angeles, the game on Tuesday had to be postponed, it was just too soon. And coaches across the league, not just in the NBA, but even further out in college basketball and Team USA reflecting on the legacy that Kobe Bryant left behind.


MIKE KRZYEWSKI, COACHED KOBE BRYANT ON TEAM USA: It's the last couple days have been really emotional, you know. Look, Lobe was one of my players. I coached him on three teams, he was my leader. And for the other people involved, too, are you kidding me?