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Senate GOP Likely To Block Witness Testimony; U.S. Advises Americans Against China Travel; Brexit Day In The U.K. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 31, 2020 - 05:30   ET



LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: The U.S. Constitution, this country's founding document, says Congress can impeach and remove the president for high crimes and misdemeanors. Evidently, pressuring a vulnerable ally to investigate a political rival and withholding military aid to get it done does not count.

A late-night announcement from retiring Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander concedes the president's conduct was wrong, but he says it's not up the Senate to act. That means a Senate vote today on whether to subpoena witnesses is likely to fail.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Most Republicans have coalesced around majority leader Mitch McConnell's argument. He says allowing witnesses would cause a long delay and have no effect on the outcome.

Assuming Republican leaders block new evidence, sources say they will press late into the night and early Saturday morning to get that final vote and acquit the president. All this means President Trump will likely head into the 2020 election unrestrained.

Congressional reporter Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we got the statement from Lamar Alexander and he is a no. That means that he's going to vote against moving forward on witnesses and documents and that could mean the swift end to the president's impeachment trial.

He says this. "I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution's high bar for an impeachable offense. The Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year's ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate.

The question then is not whether the president did it, but whether the United States [Senate] or the American people should decide what to do about what he did. I believe that the Constitution provides that the people should make that decision in the presidential election that begins in Iowa on Monday."

So, what that means is that the votes are simply not there at the moment to move forward on impeachment documents and probably will not be there tomorrow, assuming there's nothing that happens to break a potential tiebreaking vote if it does come to that because looking at the math here there are 53 Republicans, 47 Democrats. Two Republicans are expected to vote for moving ahead.

They need -- Lamar Alexander is a no, so the only person who there's still a question about is Lisa Murkowski. And if it's 50-50, she votes -- decides to vote with the Democrats, does the chief justice vote to break a tie? The expectation here is that it's not going to happen, which means that if he doesn't break a tie and she's a no, then even if she votes for it, that means that the president's impeachment trial could be over.

Back to you.


JARRETT: Manu, thank you.

The decision by Sen. Alexander against calling witnesses drew a predictably partisan response.


MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it -- I think it reflects what a lot of Americans believe and it certainly reflects what a lot of Senate Republicans believe, which is this may have been inappropriate. Had this -- had the Democrats not overreached and perhaps brought censure as a vote to the Senate, maybe we would have voted for this. They went too far and tried to remove him in an election year. It doesn't rise to the level of impeachment.

That's a principle thing for him to say. You may disagree with it but it's a principle thing for him to say and it's the view that a lot of Americans also hold.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Look, it was Donald Trump who as a candidate, said I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone dead and get away with it. Sadly, predictions of his unrestrained behavior from his campaign are coming true. And while I understand some of my Republican colleagues may like the results of his policies or may agree with some of his initiatives, you certainly can't think it's good for the American people or our standing in the world or rule of law.


ROMANS: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is un Ukraine this morning. America's top diplomat meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other leaders. Pompeo, the first administration official to visit Ukraine since President Trump's impeachment. Of course, Ukraine, center to the impeachment proceedings.

Contrary to testimony in the probe, Pompeo says a White House meeting between Zelensky and Trump has no preconditions.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, there's no condition of the nature you describe for President Zelensky to come to Washington and have that visit. It's just simply not the case. We'll find the right time. We'll find the appropriate opportunity.


ROMANS: The U.S. ambassador to the E.U. said Pompeo was in the loop about withholding military aid to Ukraine.

Pompeo's arrival in Kiev comes less than a week after he questioned whether Americans care about Ukraine, while privately berating an NPR reporter.

OK, more on all of this ahead. Plus, Amazon's stock in the trillion- dollar club. Jeff Bezos gets even richer. A strong jobs report. I'll tell you all about it next.



ROMANS: Sen. Lamar Alexander says he is a no vote. That means the Senate will likely reject new witnesses or documents in President Trump's impeachment trial. But beyond that, the vote will likely give weight to the argument the president has unchecked power. And it comes just days before the 2020 election process begins in Iowa.

JARRETT: CNN's Marshall Cohen is live for us this morning in Washington. Marshall, good morning.

ROMANS: Hi, there.

JARRETT: Take a step back for us if you could. You've been covering this, obviously, since the early days -- the impeachment probe, the process. I mean, this is a president who first was facing Robert Mueller's grasp in the Russian investigation.


JARRETT: He manages to escape any taint of any liability there -- completely no problem.

Now he gets to impeachment. Once again, it appears -- if it's trending that way -- that they will vote to acquit.

How emboldened -- how unchecked is he going to be now heading into a race for president -- 2020?

COHEN: Well, he must feel great. He's bragged about how he sort of won the Mueller investigation.

[05:40:03] JARRETT: Yes.

COHEN: And you better believe -- and especially as he gets out on the campaign trail for this next several months -- that he's going to be touting this every opportunity he's got.


COHEN: You know, you mentioned the powers -- the balance of powers. It's really important to remember, right, he got on the phone with the Ukrainian president just a day after Robert Mueller came and sort of had that big belly flop in front of Congress. So, the Democrats have charged that he did feel emboldened from that victory in the Mueller probe.

And I think yesterday on the Senate floor, Adam Schiff, the top Democratic House manager, was warning the senators and saying if that's what he did after Mueller, imagine what he's going to do after you let him off the hook --


COHEN: -- for this one.

ROMANS: Right.

Let's talk about this new reporting we have from our affiliate KXAN on the former national security adviser John Bolton behind closed doors in Austin at a group last night defending Trump administration officials who testified about what was happening there.

He said all of these people -- "All of them acted in the best interest of the country as they saw it and consistent to what they thought our policies were. The idea that somehow testifying to what you think is true is destructive to the system of government we have, I think, is very nearly the reverse -- the exact reverse of the truth."

The Democrats have not ruled out bringing him before the House to talk about what he knows about all of this, and there's a book coming out, too. Should they -- would that be smart for the Democrats to do that or should they move past this?

COHEN: Well, I think in terms of actually getting to the bottom of what happened there is more to learn. So, if they were to take an action like that in the House, I think -- I'm always in favor of getting more facts out there and get to the bottom of what happened. Too little, too late with regards to the actual impeachment.

And it sure is interesting to hear John Bolton behind closed doors -- this was a closed-door event -- talking about how brave these people are. Honestly, it's not as brave to say something like that in private. So far, we've only seen leaks. John Bolton hasn't actually made a public statement about this since the beginning of the year when he said he would testify if called.

But he knows so much and yet, he appears poised to, himself, reveal it all in his book.

JARRETT: Marshall, how do you run if you're a Republican this year?

Obviously, we know that Lamar Alexander is retiring, so --


JARRETT: -- he's not up for reelection. He's a no on witnesses. Susan Collins is a yes. We don't yet know what Murkowski will do. We don't yet know what Sen. Romney will do but he appears to be --


JARRETT: -- a yes.

But, you know, for the -- for some of these other folks, how do they -- how do they go back to their constituents and explain this at home?

You know, at first, it was the president did nothing wrong. And then it was well, let's wait and see. Let's let this play out and see what the evidence is. And now, it's even if he did something wrong, as Lamar Alexander said last night -- even if what he did was inappropriate it's not impeachable.

COHEN: Yes, incredible statement from Lamar Alexander, who basically said -- and using his words -- that the Democrats proved their case in article one but it wasn't impeachable.

You know, for these Republicans, especially so many of the Republicans that are facing close races this year, those weren't the people that were sort of playing ball with witnesses. Those are people like Cory Gardner in Colorado or Thom Tillis in North Carolina who have basically been locked down in favor of what Mitch McConnell wanted to do and what the president wanted to do -- no witnesses.

Their calculation clearly is that the Republican base is totally with Trump. They don't want to see anybody -- you know, don't get any big ideas. Don't -- this is not the time to stand up to the president. And the power balance really fell onto some of these others.

The key differentiator, though, would be Susan Collins, as you mentioned. She is facing a tough race. She'll have to be defending her Kavanaugh vote, too, from two years ago. So, you know, she's gearing up for a very, very close fight.

But for so many of the other vulnerable Republicans or so-called vulnerable Republicans, they decided early on in this process that it was better for them to stay with the president than to walk away from the president.

JARRETT: And I think some Democrats have been staking their hopes on the chief justice John Roberts --


JARRETT: -- that maybe he would be able to break a tie if it is 50- 50. But, you know, he's not the vice president. The Constitution does not say that that's the role he has here. And I think that most legal experts expect that he would not want to weigh in on this political process if the vote ends up being 50-50.

COHEN: Right, he can do it but he probably won't.

JARRETT: He can, and there's precedent, but he probably won't.

ROMANS: All right, Marshall Cohen, CNN reporter. Nice to see you. You've been following this for us -- literally, the brain trust on all things impeachment.

JARRETT: Thanks, Marshall.

ROMANS: Thank you, Marshall.

All right, breaking overnight, the State Department advising Americans not to travel to China over concerns about the coronavirus. That means the U.S. is now classifying travel to China as dangerous as North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, though for a very different reason.


The State Department warning coming hours after the first person-to- person transmission of the coronavirus in the U.S. And the World Health Organization declaring the global public health emergency, not because of the outbreak in China but out of fear it could spread to countries that do not have the ability to contain it.

There are now just over 9,700 confirmed cases in Mainland China, a spike of almost 2,000 from a day earlier. There have been 213 deaths. And the global isolation of China stretches into another day.

CNN's David Culver live in Beijing with the latest.

And here in the United States, this person-to-person transmission between a husband and his wife. He had just come back from Wuhan Province. This happened in Chicago. That got a lot of attention here.

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes, and it's getting a lot of attention. Of course, similar scenarios and many cases like that across this region and that's the reality that's playing out.

And that's also, Christine, what's leading to the increasingly isolated Mainland China scenario right now -- 1.4 billion people essentially being cut off from not only the region, but it seems the world.

We're seeing that with Russia even closing their far east border. You see Hong Kong there. Folks are calling more and more for that border to be sealed.

And then you see flights to and from being either cut back or canceled altogether, and that's happening at a rapid pace. It's interesting, though, to see how it's being portrayed in state media here in the sense of they're focusing on the World Health Organization's really opposing the travel restrictions and the trade restrictions. So, they're hoping that folks might be willing to perhaps back off as well.

Also, state media is portraying two different sides of this story if you will. I mean, they're certainly coming forward with what's going on in the city of Wuhan, and we're seeing the construction and we're seeing the deployment. And they're portraying what is a valiant effort from President Xi and the central government.

However, what's not being showcased nearly as much is the dire situation. We're talking to folks on the ground and we hear it from independent Chinese news media, as well as social media, and they portray the lack of medical supplies. People are feeling like they're going into battle, so to speak -- doctors and nurses -- without the armor. And that's not necessarily getting nearly as highlighted, Christine, as some of these other massive containment efforts that are seen as really kind of the pride and joy right now of the central government.

ROMANS: All right, David Culver for us in Beijing. Thanks so much. Keep us posted.

JARRETT: The L.A. Lakers will be back on the court tonight for the first time since Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others died in a helicopter crash. The team will pay tribute to the Laker legend during the game at Staples Center.

The company that owns the helicopter that crashed, Island Express, says it's suspending flight operations indefinitely.

ROMANS: Kobe will also be honored Sunday during the Super Bowl halftime show headlined by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.


JENNIFER LOPEZ, SUPER BOWL HALFTIME PERFORMER: I think about Vanessa as a mom and losing her best friend and partner, and losing her child. And I think how awful that must be for her right now.

SHAKIRA, SUPER BOWL HALFTIME PERFORMER: It will be celebrating life and celebrating diversity in this country. I'm sure he will be very proud to see how we're going to -- the message that we're going to be trying to convey on stage.


ROMANS: Officials say a public memorial in Los Angeles for Kobe Bryant and the other crash victims will not be held for at least two weeks, maybe longer.

We'll be right back.


JARRETT: Mixed emotions on this historic day in the U.K. Brexit has finally arrived. At 6:00 p.m. eastern time, the United Kingdom will no longer be a member of the European Union.

CNN's Nic Robertson live in Sunderland, England where the cabinet meets today. And, Nic, what do we expect to hear from the prime minister Boris Johnson today?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: He's going to talk about a new era -- a new future. He'll say that today is not the end but it's the beginning.

And he'll also talk about his message of leveling up, and what he means by that is the south of the U.K. has been so much more prosperous for so many more years than the north and he wants to readdress that.

And that's one of the reasons why he's coming to Sunderland, 240 miles northeast of -- northeast of London. A significant shipbuilding and coal mining region in the past, but in the recent decades that's fallen away.

And significantly as well, this town has a very large Nissan car production plant. This is a city of about 175,000 people. Seven thousand are employed directly at that Nissan factory.

And, you know, a bad message from the prime minister actually is that the -- leaving the European Union is having a negative effect on car production. That factory is 20 percent down on its output. So that's a worry in this area.

And, of course, for people across the country, it's a worry about the next phase of Brexit. Yes, the U.K. leaves tonight, but then a new future trade relationship has to be negotiated. And one of the concerns about the Nissan factory here is if the terms aren't right the bosses have said that plant may actually have to close down.


So, the prime minister expected here in a few hours. Totally out of the norm to hold a cabinet session outside of London. But that's his message -- a new era coming. A better future where the north and the south are more equal -- Laura.

JARRETT: A new era, indeed, Nic Robertson. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. Taking a look at markets around the world right now, pretty much a mixed performance to end the trading week.

On Wall Street, also a little bit of a downbeat morning here forecast. Stocks managed some small gains Thursday. The Dow closed up 125 points. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both a little bit higher.

Economic growth, we learned, settled into a two percent range below White House targets. The economy growing 2.3 percent last year. That's fine -- that's fair growth -- but it is the slowest level since 2016.

Altria taking a beating on Juul, the e-cigarette maker. It slashed the value of its investment in Juul by another $4.1 billion in the fourth quarter. The maker of Marlboro cigarettes blamed the growing number of legal cases against Juul. Altria has now lost more than $8 billion -- almost $9 billion -- two-thirds of its investment in just over a year.

Amazon on fire. A strong quarter launched the stock up more than eight percent after hours, propelling Amazon into the trillion-dollar club. Amazon reported a $3.3 billion profit for Q4.

Amazon's effort to make one-day shipping standard for its Prime customers appears to be paying off. A record 150 million people now subscribe to Amazon Prime. Amazon plans to invest another billion dollars to expand one-day shipping.

That stock rally, by the way, makes the world's richest man even richer. Jeff Bezos' net worth up a cool $13 billion in just a matter of minutes.

JARRETT: That's amazing, just in a day.

Well, reports of sexual assaults are rising sharply at the U.S. military's elite service academies. According to the Pentagon, there was a 27 percent increase in the last school year. In 2018 and 2019, 149 sexual assaults were reported at the academies. That's 32 more than the year before.

Locations with the most reported incidents were at West Point; the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland; and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Pentagon officials characterize the jump in reporting. They say that it should be interpreted as an increase in the crime rate.

ROMANS: A surprise gift for a middle school teacher in Nebraska from his students. Trey Payne's Nike basketball shoes were stolen from his classroom two weeks ago, so a group of his students pooled their money to replace them.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Don't cry. You're going to make me cry. Don't cry.


ROMANS: Payne says the gift is much more than just a pair of shoes. It's about doing things to build everyone up around you.

JARRETT: You might say Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson is finally in the club. The rapper, actor, and producer was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in a ceremony Thursday. His friend and fellow artist Eminem made a rare public appearance to pay tribute.


EMINEM, RAPPER: This is not only like a business partner to me, it's one of the best friends I've ever known in the world. And I would say that it's much more fun to be his friend than it is to be his enemy.


ROMANS: 50 Cent rose to fame in 2003 with his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin' which sold 12 million copies worldwide.

JARRETT: And speaking of things to celebrate --


JARRETT: -- our sources familiar with the matter told me that it's a special someone's birthday.

ROMANS: It's my birthday.

JARRETT: I wish you -- Christine Romans, I wish you all the sleep --

ROMANS: Thank you>

JARRETT: -- that your family will allow you to have this weekend.

ROMANS: I know, it's my birthday and there's just such a slow news cycle. I wish for a -- I wish for a better news cycle for my birthday. Thanks, guys.

Thanks for joining us this Friday morning.

JARRETT: Happy birthday, Christine.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

ROMANS: This is really sweet. Thank you.


ROMANS: Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander says he plans to vote against witnesses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This will be the most significant he makes in his career and it's one of the last votes he'll make.

RAJU: The president's impeachment trial could be over.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I call it the impeachment hoax and that's what it is. It's a hoax.

COONS: I'm gravely concerned about what this means.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are likely to move on Saturday at the end of which the president will be acquitted.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): He will not be acquitted. You cannot be acquitted if you don't have a trial. And you don't have a trial if you don't have witnesses and documentation.


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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Friday, January 31st. It's 6:00 here in New York.