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Remembering Helicopter Crash Victims Sarah And Payton Chester; 49ers' Richard Sherman Enjoying Super Bowl Run With His Son; U.S. Economy Grows 2.3 Percent In 2019; Dershowitz Argues For Nearly Unchallenged Presidential Power; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) Is Interviewed About President Trump's Impeachment; W.H. Issues Formal Threat To Bolton Over Forthcoming Book; 9-Year-Old Uses Heimlich Maneuver To Save Cousin. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 30, 2020 - 08:30   ET



TODD SCHMIDT, FORMER PRINCIPAL, HARBOR VIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: You know, as a principal, you get to work with so many fantastic families and I -- one of the things that was always amazing about the Chesters and I, I used this word for both Sarah and Payton, was the word heart. They just had the biggest hearts, and they were so supportive and so encouraging. And not just to me, but to our entire school community, to other students.

They just -- they brought so much joy to that campus and they did it with just a lot of humor and just a lot of fun. And their kids were the absolute best and I just loved them so much. They were such a great addition to the Harbor View community.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You say Payton was your go-to girl for new students to get them acclimated.


BERMAN: I love that. Tell us what you mean.

SCHMIDT: Well, you know, a lot of times in our community, in any school, when you get a new student, it can be really daunting. And if I had a new student, I could just go to Payton and several of her friends and they would just make sure that that person from almost the moment that she met them would feel at ease, at home and just part of the Harbor View family.

And you know, she did it with just this big smile. I mean, the photos people have been sharing, you just -- you cannot miss that giant wattage smile that she had and it just was so incredible and put people just, you know, at ease. And kids just felt right at home right from the start with her.

BERMAN: On your Facebook page you wrote of the Chesters that they were engaged, supportive, encouraging, full of mischief and laughter. And as someone who loves mischief, I was struck by the fact that you pointed that out and I wanted you to talk about that. SCHMIDT: You know, there are just definite times. One of the -- my favorite memories that I would have of Sarah is we would have PTA meetings and she liked to see if she could get me to smile or to crack during a presentation. And even if I tried to move on to the same side of the table so we wouldn't have direct eye contact, she would just dutifully get up and move because it became kind of a game that I just -- and she was very good at it. I don't think there was ever a time that she couldn't like catch my eye and just make me smile.

And Payton was the exact same way. Just -- she had such a love of other kids and a love of learning and her teachers just adored her. And you know, just -- she had this trademark grin and just, you know, they just brought so much joy. And it's been really, really hard for this little community.

BERMAN: You tell a story that one of the things your school did to raise money was that at auctions. You auctioned off time with teachers, for instance, a lunch or a coffee or going to get ice cream. And you tell a story about once where the Chesters bid to spend time with you. What was that like?

SCHMIDT: So, we do as part of one of our fundraisers have these little auctions. And so I got a chance to spend the day with them and it was fun to be as the principal, I got to take them out of class and we set up video games and the Wii and we played "Just Dance." And then I took them out for a pizza at a local place and then we finished with frozen yogurt at another local place.

And Sarah snapped a picture of all of us as we were finishing and, you know, Payton couldn't have been more than second grade. And I just -- I had this picture of her with her brothers and some friends of theirs and just out there and just, again, that trademark smile. It just -- it brings me a lot of happiness because that picture is in my office right now.

BERMAN: And that's the memory that I know you will hold onto. And I know you have been incredibly sensitive not to pick up the phone and call Chris, the father, or the two brothers who you know also who went to the school. So if you could send them a message this morning, what would that be?

SCHMIDT: I just want them to know how loved they are and how this community has embraced them the way that they embraced all of us and they mean so much to so many people. And during this time, I just -- I didn't want that to be forgotten. I didn't want them to be forgotten that we care about them, we love them so much, and we're just -- everyone just has them in their thoughts and prayers. And I just want them to know how many people are just lifting them up and supporting them.

BERMAN: Well, their memory lives with you this morning. They were clearly lucky to have you as a principal as it sounds, as if you were lucky to get to know them. Dr. Todd Schmidt, thanks very much for being with us this morning.

SCHMIDT: Thank you for this opportunity. I appreciate it. BERMAN: We'll be right back.



BERMAN: I can't tell if that sounds like Van Halen or J. Geils Band. Countdown to kick off in Miami, Super Bowl 54, the 49ers and the Chiefs now just three days away. Not many players in this game have been there before, but the 49ers' Richard Sherman has twice when he was with the Seahawks, one of them losing to the (INAUDIBLE) Patriots. Sherman's son turns five a few days after the Super Bowl, he says this time might be more special, Sherman says, because his son can enjoy the run.


RICHARD SHERMAN, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS CORNERBACK: It's unbelievable. I mean, that's one of the best parts about this experience, you know, and that's what makes it so much different and so much -- and it gives you so much more perspective because he's so aware of it. He's fully aware.

He's like, hey, that's a Super Bowl helmet. Hey, you guys are in the Super Bowl. If you win, you get the championship trophy. Like, he fully understands it and that's what's so cool to me.

It really gives you something to fight for. It gives you something to go out there and it will be a special memory and something he'll remember forever if we're able to get it done.


BERMAN: It really is great that he gets to share it with his son. No pressure, but Sherman's son told his father he wants a championship ring for his birthday, maybe show and tell at school.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I'm sure the Chiefs kids want a championship ring for their birthday.

BERMAN: Yes, but it's not about that. I mean, it is.

CAMEROTA: Yes. All right, it's time for CNN Business. The Commerce Department has just released the fourth quarter GDP figures. Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans joins us with more. How is the economy?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. The economy is moving along nicely, 2.1 percent economic growth in the fourth quarter, just like it was in the third quarter, a little bit stronger than this summer.

Let's take a look at the big picture, the picture for the year, 2.3 percent for the year now, we know, that is the slowest economic growth of the Trump presidency and it looks an awful lot like some of those years we saw in the Obama years.

The supercharged economic growth the President promised is just not coming through here. You know, the White House has 3 percent targets for the year, didn't quite make those, it looks like, 3.1 percent target for this year and we know that there are a couple of big factors going on here right now that could make that hard to hit.

You look at the coronavirus. We don't know what kind of impact that will have. And you also look at the Boeing Max crisis. We know the Treasury Secretary has said maybe even a half percentage point of GDP will evaporate because of that Max crisis.

So, we have these tax cuts, big tax cuts and huge government spending, right? And the White House has told us for several years now that, in fact, a supercharged economy would pay for those things. We're not seeing that.

A headline that is really important to look at when you look at these kinds of numbers for economic growth is this. The share of the debt to the economy right now about 80 percent. In 10 years, it's forecast to be 98 percent. That is a record.

That would be a record for post war, the largest debt to economy. That's not a good place to be in. We're not paying for the tax cuts. The economy is not growing strong enough to pay for the promises your government is making, guys.

BERMAN: It's a record and also something that many politicians have said is unsustainable. In the past --


BERMAN: -- you've heard that from Republicans.

ROMANS: Right now they have amnesia on this, no question. No one is talking about it and at least in Washington it doesn't seem to be much worried about it at all.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, thanks very much.

So a crucial vote looms in the President's impeachment trial. Will senators allow witnesses in a trial? One of those people who has a vote on the subject joins us next.



CAMEROTA: President Trump's legal team offered up a mind-blowing defense during the first day of the question and answer phase. Attorney Alan Dershowitz claims that if a president believes his own political agenda helps the public interest, well, then he can do anything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALAN DERSHOWITZ, CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER: Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest. And mostly you're right. Your election is in the public interest. And if 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: OK. Joining us now is Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Good morning, Senator.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Good morning. How are you, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: I'm doing well. What did you think when you were sitting, listening to Alan Dershowitz's argument there?

WHITEHOUSE: Let's just say there were a lot of eye rolls in the Senate. I think Professor Dershowitz has generated a lot of eye rolls during the course of his testimony because a lot of what he says is inconsistent with what he has said before, with what the consensus of scholarly and historical opinion is, with what he has said in these very proceedings, and in this case with common sense and decency. The idea that it's a defense to a president trying to fix an election that he believes he should be elected really doesn't pass the common sense test.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, you say eye rolls. I've heard kudos from the other -- folks on the other side of the aisle. We've heard Republicans in the hallway make the case that, well, here's a Harvard Emeritus professor saying these things and they have said, so if Alan Dershowitz believes some of the stuff that he's saying, you know, that gives us a feeling that we're in good hands, basically.

CAMEROTA: Well, that's his job. His job is to be a Harvard Emeritus professor and come in and try to give some credibility to preposterous things. But I think most people and certainly most lawyers in the Senate know that that makes no sense, whatsoever, and it would be laughed out of any criminal court proceeding for bribery or extortion or political corruption case.

CAMEROTA: I mean, what he's saying is beyond laughable. I mean, our legal experts have said that it changes the very fabric of the American presidency.

WHITEHOUSE: Yes. I mean, it really puts the presidency ahead of the law in the sense that the President can cheat and break laws. And because criminal intent would be required per Dershowitz's theory, I'm not sure that's true in an impeachment, but let's go with Dershowitz's theory, criminal intent is required because this is a criminal proceeding, but the President can't have criminal intent because if his intent is to get himself reelected, that's legitimate and justifies all the activities, however dark, however mischievous, however illegal that he deploys to fix his reelection.

CAMEROTA: You posed a question yesterday, along with some of your colleagues, about Hunter Biden's business activities that I think a lot of people have been wondering.


You basically said if Republicans are so upset about Hunter Biden's overseas business being a conflict of interest, should not they investigate the Trump children's overseas business activities as a conflict of interest also? That's an interesting question. But you posed it to the Democratic House managers instead of to the President's legal team. Why didn't you ask them that question?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, that was Senator Udall's call who actually asked the question. I support the question being asked. And I think it's an important question to ask, because I think if you're going to make the kind of arguments that they're making, extraneous arguments about an unrelated issue of Hunter Biden's personal business dealings, then it ought to be fair game to make inquiry as to the business dealings of the Trump family while the President is in office and while they in some cases, are actually holding office themselves. You really shouldn't be able to have it only one way. It should apply equally on either side. I think that was the point we were trying to make.

CAMEROTA: Sure. But I mean, didn't -- and I take that point. But didn't you and Senator Udall think that you should pose that to the President's legal team?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, they have the chance to answer it, as you know, if they feel that they have not been treated fairly. Senator Thune jumps right up and asks a question, what do you have to say to what was just said? So they have a good opportunity to respond if they wish to, and I don't fault Senator Udoll for asking the President's legal team -- I'm sorry, the House managers that question.

CAMEROTA: As of this morning, do you think the American public will get to hear from witnesses in this trial?

WHITEHOUSE: I doubt it. What I see is a party that is bound and determined to get this behind them as soon as they can. The talk is the President wants this done before the Super Bowl for whatever constitutional standard before the Super Bowl provides. And that to get there, they're going to just try to get out of this as quickly as they can.

And for them it's an out of the frying pan into the fire situation, because if they jump out of having witnesses, they then have to answer to the American public for why they denied the American public witnesses and why they violated the most recent standards of the Senate in the Porteous trial with multiple, multiple witnesses. But, I think they're so eager to get out of this hot frying pan right now that they'll take their chances with the fire in the coming months.

CAMEROTA: As you probably know, John Bolton has received a warning from the National Security Counsel. They don't want his book published. They say that they have found top-secret information in there. If John Bolton's book contains top secret information, shouldn't the NSC do something more than a strongly worded letter? WHITEHOUSE: Well, I think that they actually have to clear the book for review for classified material. The danger here is that they are going to -- or the White House is going to take what the NSC is entitled to do, which is to examine a manuscript for classified material and make sure that no secrets, no intelligence sources and methods are revealed and try to expand that into their doctrine of absolute immunity, executive privilege and so forth.

Bolton is a free citizen now, can more or less say what he pleases. And if he chooses to defy the President's exertions of executive privilege, he is fully at liberty to do so. So they are a little between a rock and a hard place here and we'll have to see this play out to see whether the NSC actually follows their job, which is to find stuff that is truly classified and stuff that is just uncomfortable or awkward for the President.

CAMEROTA: OK. But I mean, what they've said is that they have found that. They say based on our preliminary review, the manuscript appear it contains significant amounts of classified information. It also appears that some of the classified info was at the top-secret level, which could be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to national security. And so --

WHITEHOUSE: And what you then do is you sit down and you do a line by line review of the places where they think they need to edit out classified material and they invited that and I assume that will go forward rapidly with Bolton and with his publishers.

CAMEROTA: OK. We will see what happens. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thank you very much for all the information. Obviously, we'll be watching closely today.

WHITEHOUSE: Good to be with you.


BERMAN: It is time now for "The Good Stuff." Nine-year-old Timothy Prather is a life saver. He saved his cousin's life when the toddler was choking on a Life Savers candy.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh.

BERNA: Timothy jumped into action, dropped into his knees in performing the Heimlich maneuver.


TIMOTHY PRATHER, SAVED HIS COUNSIN'S LIFE: I took him and started pushing on his stomach, like this.


BERMAN: So, he had seen it on a poster that hangs in his school cafeteria. Look at that. The Life Savers candy was dislodged from his cousin's throat.



PRATHER: I just felt happy that he's alive.


BERMAN: And the news of Timothy's heroic, it has been the talk of the elementary school.


BRANDI WARDLOW, RAMER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KINDERGARTEN TEACHER: It's awesome to think that a third grader can save a life. It's amazing.


BERMAN: That is awesome for Timothy. Can I tell you one funny story?


BERMAN: My wife, whom you know, has always kept one of these Heimlich maneuver posters in her house. And I'm like, these were silly. Why do you have this here? This isn't an artwork. She goes, it's going to save someone's life.

CAMEROTA: And I think she's just been proven correct.

BERMAN: She's just been proven right.

CAMEROTA: That is exactly right. Kerry is right, as always.

BERMAN: As always.

CAMEROTA: All right, senators get to ask more questions at President Trump's impeachment trial starting in just a couple of hours. And our coverage continues, next