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Interview Of Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) On Impeachment; Rep. Tlaib Boos Hillary Clinton At Sanders Event In Iowa; Pentagon Preparing 1,000 Beds For Quarantined Americans. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 1, 2020 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:01]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: No apology so far and tonight, Clinton camp is speaking out.

And 75,000 cases. A disturbing new estimate of the number of people possibly infected with coronavirus as an eighth case is confirmed in the United States. And now the Pentagon is bracing the house as many as a thousand people who may need to be quarantined.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Brianna Keilar, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight, a key Republican senator is explaining his vote against calling witnesses in President Trump's impeachment trial setting the course for his acquittal next week.

Amid Democratic outrage, Senator Lamar Alexander says President Trump's actions were improper, but did not warrant impeachment and sources are now telling CNN that President Trump isn't expected to apologize after his acquittal, as President Clinton did or express any regret.

We're also following the battle for Iowa and the deepening Democratic rift just over 48 hours before the much anticipated caucuses.

Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib booing Hillary Clinton during a campaign event for Bernie Sanders, and so far not apologizing for it.

Our guest this hour is Democratic Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota and our correspondents and analysts are standing by.

First, let's go to Capitol Hill and CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent, Manu Raju. It's a remarkable political week ahead.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no question about it, coming Wednesday will be that decisive vote in which the President will ultimately be acquitted and Republicans are planning to vote to acquit the President. We will see if there any defections on either side of the aisle.

And this comes as Republicans are still defending that vote from last night that blocked any witnesses from coming forward in the impeachment trial.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUESTION: How does it feel to be leaving during the trial after no resolution?

RAJU (voice over): Tonight, a bitterly divided Senate taking a break as Republican push for a swift end to President Trump's historic impeachment trial.

After ignoring Democratic complaints that they are holding a sham trial, Republicans have now set a schedule that will virtually ensure Trump is cleared a date after his State of the Union address next week.

Monday at 11:00 a.m., closing arguments for the Democratic impeachment managers and President Trump's lawyers for two hours each. After that, regular Senate business, allowing senators to deliver floor speeches about their decisions over whether to convict the President.

Culminating Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, the final vote on whether to remove or acquit President Trump on charges of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Today, Democrats emotion still raw after Republicans voted largely along party lines against hearing from any witnesses or issuing subpoenas for scores of documents blocked by the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's deeply disappointing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU (voice over): Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeting, "It is a sad day for America to see Senator McConnell humiliate the Chief Justice of the United States into presiding over a vote which rejected our nation's judicial norms, precedents and institutions which uphold the Constitution and the rule of law."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mrs. Feinstein discerns no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU (voice over): In Friday's dramatic vote, two Republicans -- Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine voted to hear from witnesses, including former National Security adviser, John Bolton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT: The yeas are 49. The nays are 51.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU (voice over): But the other 51 Republicans voted to block the effort with many arguing that no matter what the witnesses said or what the President did, it would not amount to an impeachable offense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): I think he shouldn't have done it. I think it was wrong. Inappropriate was the way I'd say, improper, crossing the line, and then the only question left is who decides what to do about that?

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Well, who decides what to do with that?

ALEXANDER: The people. The people is my conclusion. I think what he did is a long way from treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors. I don't think is the kind of inappropriate action that the framers would expect the Senate to substitute its judgment for the people in picking a President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU (voice over): But many Republicans and the White House wanted Trump cleared last night so he could use Tuesday's State of the Union address to boast about his acquittal. Yet, some Senate Republicans and most Democrats demanded a chance to speak on the floor.

That means President Trump will still be on trial while delivering the nationally televised address.

The delay also allows the four Democratic senators running for President to campaign in Iowa today and tomorrow, ahead of the crucial Iowa caucuses, Monday night.

Now, the focus is on whether any senators buck their party on the final vote, including three moderate Democrats who have not ruled out acquittal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Is it a very hard decision?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): It is the most serious decision that any senator will ever make in their career. And every senator wish they didn't have to make this decision.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU: And Senator Manchin told me last night that he is actually not going to make his decision until Wednesday when he walks into the Senate chamber.

[18:05:03]

RAJU: Other -- those moderate Democrats also not saying what they will do. Doug Jones telling me last night that he was going to make a decision next week. He is still going through some things. Kyrsten Sinema refused to answer any questions at all. And we'll see Brianna, if any Republicans break ranks. Mitt Romney, Susan Collins have voted for witnesses.

Romney declined to comment when I asked him, so did Susan Collins, so we'll see if there's a straight party line vote or if there are some defectors.

KEILAR: All right. We know you'll keep us up to date, and thank you for joining us in studio. Manu Raju, we appreciate it.

Ahead of this monumental week, President Trump is at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. We have CNN White House Correspondent, Jeremy Diamond also there.

And Jeremy, the President won't get his victory lap before his State of the Union address. What are you learning about the discussions with the White House on this timeline?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, President Trump and his aides at the White House had viewed that State of the Union Address coming up on Tuesday as an opportunity for President Trump to walk into the House of Representatives, the chamber where he had been impeached late last year and come in as a newly vindicated man, newly vindicated President.

They had hoped, of course, for that to happen that the President would be acquitted in the Senate before that State of the Union Address.

It became clear last night that that was not going to happen despite the fact that the White House had expressed to Republican Senate leadership that they did indeed want that vindication, that acquittal in the Senate to come before Tuesday.

So now the question shifts to how the President will respond to this acquittal when it comes after the State of the Union as we expect it to happen on Wednesday?

Now, the last President who has been acquitted on impeachment charges in the Senate trial was Bill Clinton, he came out in the Rose Garden, apologized profusely to the nation and said he was profoundly sorry.

Now, Brianna, don't expect anything of the sort from President Trump. My sources -- sources close to the President are telling me that the President is not expected to make any kind of statements of contrition or to admit any wrongdoing.

That is despite the fact that we've seen several Republican senators, namely, the Republican Senator from Tennessee Lamar Alexander say that the President acted inappropriately here.

The President, though expected to continue his usual comments. What we've heard from him so far, of course, is that his phone conversation with Ukrainian President was perfect, and that all of his conduct was perfect. And that's what we expect to continue to see from the President -- Brianna. KEILAR: All right, CNN's Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much from West Palm Beach for us.

And joining us now is Democratic Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota. Thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciate it.

SEN. TINA SMITH (D-MN): Thank you, Brianna. It's great to be with you.

KEILAR: So you, yesterday said it was a bad night for democracy. Can you take us through what it was like there in the room?

SMITH: Well, of course, by the time we made those votes yesterday on whether or not the Senate was going to hear witnesses, we had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen.

And for me, what made it so disheartening was to see so many of my Republican colleagues abandon a historic bipartisan precedent of Senate impeachment trials, including witnesses.

I think in that time, the Senate abandoned its role and its responsibility. And to me, that's a very dark day.

KEILAR: What do you say to your Republican colleagues like Senator Alexander, who say, you know, this wasn't a perfect call? They say it was inappropriate. But they also say it's not impeachable.

SMITH: Well, we are seeing this transformation of the defense of the President that has gone from, he did nothing wrong to, he didn't -- yes, he did what he is accused of, but it's not impeachable, to even some people suggesting, well, maybe it's impeachable, but we shouldn't impeach him anyway.

And to me, that is the most cynical and honestly, the most partisan of arguments. I mean, our responsibility is to the constitution and not to our party, and that is what I keep coming down to.

I asked myself, would I have the courage to vote to remove a President of my own party, who is accused of the kinds of abuses of power that we've seen in the in the impeachment trial? I hope that I would.

KEILAR: So all of this new information that's been coming out through the courts, also from John Bolton now, do you think in retrospect, it was a mistake for House Democrats to pass this off to a Republican controlled Senate when they did and to not subpoena John Bolton?

SMITH: Well, remember, they tried to get John Bolton to testify and he refused. He was blocked.

We have seen the most kind of whole scale blocking of the White House participating in any kind of providing evidence --

KEILAR: But the subpoena is a different thing. A subpoena is a different thing than a request.

SMITH: That is right. And they -- but, you know the White House -- excuse me, the House did attempt to get documents, they did a subpoena, and I think that of course, the Senate has the opportunity to subpoena and get this data. And that's why I was so disappointed that we turned down that opportunity.

[18:10:06]

SMITH: And of course, even yet today we're seeing that the White House has two dozen e-mails that would give us more information about what was in the President's -- what the President's intent was around withholding this security aid. And yet, we won't have the opportunity to see that.

And you know, the thing is, the truth will come out. With this many people who know what happened here, the truth will find a way.

KEILAR: But if it did come out in the span of the House investigation, which was rather quick, would that have been more helpful than it coming out when it's in the middle of a Senate trial where Republicans are in charge?

I mean, it seems -- you know, it seems like Democrats are relying on Republicans to do really what they would want to see done and that's just not how it works.

SMITH: Well, I think it's important to remember that the whole scale blocking of information in data that the White House participated in in the House, we've never seen before. Unprecedented.

Richard Nixon provided data and documents and witnesses. Bill Clinton provided data and documents and witnesses, and this White House said absolutely not.

And so I think the most important thing is that we get to that information, and I don't think it's right to say, oh, well, you know, it's the House's fault that they didn't get the information when it was the White House that was blocking it all along.

KEILAR: Senators are going to have time this week to speak on the floor before the final vote, is that something you're going to take the opportunity to do?

SMITH: I do plan to speak on the floor. You know, the trial is not over yet. We have closing arguments on Monday beginning at 11, and I will -- I expect to speak on the floor sometime between then and when the final vote is on that Wednesday.

KEILAR: What do you want people to know? What's your objective?

SMITH: What I will want people to know is why I make the final decision that I will make about my decision and how I'm going to vote and I want people to really think about what it means, what the purpose is of this trial to remove the President? What is behind the reason that we go through all of this? Which is to protect the very basic fabric of our democracy, which is that no person is above the law.

KEILAR: Senator Tina Smith, thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We really appreciate it.

SMITH: I appreciate it, too. Thanks so much.

KEILAR: And just ahead, Democratic divisions on display ahead of the Iowa caucuses. What do they mean for the first test of the party's 2020 White House hopefuls?

Plus disturbing new numbers as the coronavirus spreads around the world. How the Pentagon is preparing tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Wrong, inappropriate, crossing the line. That is how Republican Senator Lamar Alexander is describing President Trump's actions toward Ukraine.

But the retiring lawmaker says impeachment was not the right response. Alexander says that's why he voted against witnesses in the President's trial, paving the way for his expected acquittal next week.

Let's dig deeper into this now with our experts and our analysts starting with John Dean, who of course, is former Nixon White House Counsel, and you know, John, you of course gave key testimony, the key testimony in the Watergate investigation before the Senate Watergate Committee.

What went through your head when you saw these senators voting against witnesses, like you were during Watergate?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Given the anticipation, Brianna, I was not surprised they didn't want any more evidence, particularly from somebody with firsthand evidence like Bolton.

This would have made their vote all that much more difficult have they had witnesses. It would have been very difficult also to just have one witness with Bolton testifying, he would have led to Mulvaney, who knows -- probably Pompeo, Giuliani and others who would seem essential all of a sudden.

But it really was disappointing and depressing that the great deliberative body of the Senate didn't want to deliberate on any of this information.

KEILAR: And Michael Gearhart, I wonder what you think about that, but also that you had the vote against witnesses in addition to last night, a court filing revealing the administration actually had lots of e-mails, more e-mails showing the President's role in withholding aid from Ukraine. What does -- I mean, what does that say to you about this entire process and even the utility in it?

MICHAEL GERHARDT, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA: Well, it's raises a really good question about whether it is useful or whether it's broken, whether impeachment really is just completely ineffective. As John and as you have pointed out, and others, the problem is that we get more and more evidence, mountains of evidence that indicate the President did this and it wasn't just a one-off. There was a systematic plan to do what he did.

And you're seeing Republican senators kind of twist themselves into knots trying to perhaps say it's wrong, but it doesn't rise to the level of impeachable offense.

They're allowed to do that. The framers gave the senators this choice because they wanted the final choice to be in people who are politically accountable.

So hopefully they will be politically accountable for this. But that means they can exercise their discretion as we saw here, and keep in mind that most of the Senate comes from a very small part of the population of the United States, so they don't really represent most Americans.

KEILAR: Yes. That's an interesting point and Shan, in addition to the documents that we don't know what's in them, the witnesses we didn't hear from, there's also new detail from John Bolton's book. This comes to us by "The New York Times" who reported on this.

Bolton says that Pat Cipollone, who we've all seen out on the Senate floor defending the President was actually in the room and the President directed Bolton to help with the Ukraine pressure campaign. What do you think about that?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's a very troubling situation, and there's been a lot of buzz about it.

You know, the House Managers, we may recall actually sent a letter to Cipollone asking him to talk about this and reveal any particular biases.

I just want to say on behalf of the lawyers, you have to be careful with tossing too much around in terms of legal ethics rules. Sometimes people are being zealous advocates, and it's unpopular.

If you dissect the rule at issue here. It's basically the rule that lawyers should not be witnesses. He's a member of the D.C. Bar, so that's the district that controls.

If you look at that, though, he probably gets away with this because they didn't call any witnesses. And that was very good info -- so he can't be a witness because they didn't call any witnesses.

But the point of that rule is to avoid one, the lawyer having a conflict with his client, but also the Ethics Committee in D.C. has spoken about the fact that a lawyer in that situation, blurring the boundaries there can disadvantage the opponent in an unfair away.

I think that's what the concern is, but it's going to be more of a moral question than probably an actual ethics violation.

[18:20:26]

KEILAR: Sam, you know, in the middle of all of this, it's really interesting to point out that the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Ukraine. What is that -- what message does that send? What do you think?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think Pompeo's intent in going to Ukraine, it was previously scheduled. He rescheduled this trip in lieu of the Soleimani strike.

What was this was a message of support from the United States for Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity. But Brianna, Pompeo's past is prologue here.

He cannot rewrite the history that's been uncovered as part of the impeachment process and I don't think the Ukrainians or the U.S. diplomats he met with will take anything that he said at face value.

We now know that while Pompeo, this summer, was issuing statements of support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, he was being -- he was -- the Secretary of State, while the President was putting U.S. foreign security assistance on the line in exchange for a political favor.

He was issuing statements of support for Ukraine while Rudy Giuliani was undercutting U.S. foreign policy by trying to meet with President Zelensky and get political favors.

And finally, I think Pompeo was going to Ukraine to try to issue support for the U.S. Embassy there. But again, we now know that while he makes these statements of support for U.S. diplomats, he has failed to defend Marie Yovanovitch who by the way, we learned retired a day or two ago.

And so for all of these reasons, whatever message Pompeo was delivering is directly undercut by the history that's been uncovered by the impeachment process.

KEILAR: John Dean, I wonder, as we know, this is a foregone conclusion, right, with the votes being there for acquittal. What are you expecting from the closing statements? What are you expecting from these floor speeches that we'll be hearing senators give?

DEAN: I think the closing statements by counsel for the managers and for the President will be very repetitious of what we've already heard. I don't expect will hear anything new, it's just pulling of the sequence together.

The brief speeches, they are 10 minute speeches that are authorized, plus, they can add to the record, they can put material in the record. They will be justifications for their positions they've taken throughout.

I think 10 minutes per member is ample for that, and I suspect there will be more Republicans that will do it than not. Brianna, the real question I have at this point is, what kind of precedent is this going to set and isn't it as your panel in the prior segment said, really appropriate to have a censure so that the President understands this is not acceptable.

If Lamar Alexander can call it inappropriate and wrong, it seems to me he could support a censure that would define why it's wrong.

So I'm hopeful there will be some follow up on that either this week, or next.

KEILAR: But I mean, it's important to point out, the President is not as Bill Clinton did, coming out and making a statement of regret, right, trying to sort of soothe some of the divisions that that impeachment process created.

The President isn't going to do that. In fact, if anything, he's going to give a victory lap before this whole thing is even over with his State of the Union.

GERHARDT: Right. This President does not apologize. He doesn't ask for forgiveness. He called the call famously perfect, and I think one thing that may be happening right now is he is getting a little bit of criticism from the Republican senators, which I'm sure is not sitting very well with him.

At the same time, the President, I think, is going to get more emboldened. He will feel empowered by this.

One repercussion here is that the Senate has kind of diminished its power, but it's helped expand his power, and we're going to see where he takes it. And I think one of the places he might take it is bending the truth more and maybe asking more favors from foreign leaders.

VINOGRAD: And I think -- sorry, just quickly, Brianna, Trump's training wheels have come off. He has no reason not to ask foreign powers for political favors. That has direct implications on Americans ability to decide who our next President is in 2020.

So this is direct national security implications for every American voter and when Senator Alexander says that Americans should decide at the ballot box how President Trump -- whether President Trump's behavior was inappropriate, he is making an illogical argument if President Trump feels emboldened to ask for foreign interference because again, he can't be criminally indicted, and he won't be impeached.

Americans lose the ability to decide whether to hold President Trump accountable or not.

KEILAR: Thank you all so much. I really appreciate you and your analysis and just ahead, Hillary Clinton, booed by a fellow Democrat who supports Bernie Sanders. What impact will the infighting have on voters about to take part in the Iowa caucuses?

Plus, the Pentagon prepares to quarantine as many as 1,000 Americans as coronavirus spreads possibly faster and farther than previously thought.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:29:57]

KEILAR: We are just over 48 hours from the start of the Iowa caucuses and there's some bad blood among Democrats that's complicating the candidates final hours of campaigning.

[18:30:07]

KEILAR: Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib booed Hillary Clinton during a campaign event for Bernie Sanders. So let's discuss all of this now with our correspondents and analysts, and Jeff Zeleny is joining us from Iowa. Let's take a look at this moment that happened with Rashida Tlaib at this Bernie Sanders event.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Iowa, we have three days. I don't remember if you guys remember last week when someone by the name of Hillary Clinton said that nobody -- we're not going to boo, we're not going to boo. We're classy here.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): Oh, no, I'll boo. Boo.

[LAUGHTER]

TLAIB: You all know I can't be quiet. No, we're going to boo. That's all right. The haters -- the haters will shut up on Monday when we win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: It's important to point out this didn't happen in a vacuum, right? The context of this is that Hillary Clinton took a shot at Bernie Sanders in a Hulu documentary still to be released, and what she said was, according to "The Hollywood Reporter," "He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes them. Nobody wants to work with them. He got nothing done."

And then yesterday, this out from a podcast by "The New York Times," let's listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was no question about who was going to be the nominee. But unfortunately, you know, his campaign and his principal supporters were just very difficult, all the way up until the end, a lot of people highly identified with his campaign were urging people to vote third party, urging people not to vote. It had an impact."

(END AUDIOCLIP)

KEILAR: So how is this all playing there in Iowa, Jeff? JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Brianna, there's no question that 2020 is picking up where 2016 left off, and you will well remember, at caucus night four years ago, you were with Hillary Clinton, I was with Bernie Sanders and the Clinton campaign won, but just by a nose and got out of town quickly, but left much bad feeling and bad blood behind here.

And that is what the exact sentiment is right now at this moment. Actually, party officials I'm speaking with are worried about the mood and the feeling inside the caucuses on Monday night with Bernie Sanders supporters and the Clinton supporters who of course are fanning out and supporting many other candidates.

And it is all over this back and forth between the Sanders and the Clinton campaign, and you couldn't say that Hillary Clinton sort of started this. Again, she's the one who opened this conversation again. Bernie Sanders supporters returned fire.

But I was actually with Senator Sanders this afternoon at a campaign stop. He did not mention this at all.

He was actually taking a very a unified approach, and he said that he will unify the party, that that is essential, but Brianna, beyond the surface of that, there is bad blood here between the two sides.

And it's easy to imagine this repeating itself if this nominating fight goes a long distance until the convention.

KEILAR: And Abby Phillip, you're also there on the ground at an event that has just been wrapping up. Tell us what you're hearing from people.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think the very fact that as Jeff mentioned that Bernie Sanders took a much more conciliatory tone in his event is reflective of a sense here in Iowa, that this is not the kind of drama that voters here are looking for in the final days before the caucuses.

There is concern across the campaigns that they appear too negative as they go into this. Remember, Democratic voters are coming off of more than two years of Donald Trump, they associate the sort of kind of vitriol in American politics with that kind of politics, and they do not want that in their nominee.

So there is a fine line here for Bernie Sanders, and so that's why even or just earlier tonight, Pete Buttigieg has been taking some sharper swipes at his opponents at both Bernie Sanders and at Joe Biden.

But he said today just now that these are these are differences that he is bringing up respectfully, and that's because all of the campaigns are acutely aware that they don't want to come across looking like they are dividers.

A lot of voters here on the ground in Iowa are looking for someone to not only unify the party, but also unify the country come November -- Brianna.

KEILAR: David Swerdlick, you're here with me in the studio. I wonder what you think watching all of this play out especially, and we should note Rashida Tlaib, kind of tried to walk this back a little bit on Twitter. But the Bernie Sanders campaign manager totally embraced this, right? He basically said, yes, look, it says, "You're all good. We love your passion and conviction. Don't change."

He endorsed what she said.

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So Congresswoman Tlaib, absolutely, she is for Senator Sanders, should throw some sharp elbows, make the case for her guy.

The booing I think suggests that you do invite the question of whether or not you're going to be a uniter in the end, if your candidate is not the nominee.

She did a good job of walking it back this morning. But it did just sort of fan the flames.

Brianna, if I could just sort of inject a little commonsense into this. Yes, 2016, the party establishment had their thumb on the scale for Clinton.

[18:35:00]

SWERDLICK: 2020, the party establishment to placate Sanders supporters, put these donor rules in place. Now, it looks like they're putting these rules in place that are going to help Michael Bloomberg get in the next debate. We'll see what happens with that.

But no one should be surprised Bri, that the party establishment is for the establishment candidate. That's how it works. And if you're insurgent, like a Barack Obama in 2008 or a Donald Trump in 2016, you have to present something to the voters that's irresistible that's going to overcome those establishment candidates. That's how politics works.

KEILAR: You need to be irresistible candidates. That's what it is. Okay, so let's talk about, Jeff, Sanders and other senators who have been stuck here. Right? They've been stuck in Washington because of impeachment. What are they doing? What kind of irresistibility are they presenting that will make up for the fact that they've been absent?

ZELENY: They have been absent and they're really working double time this weekend holding events, meeting with more people, but the reality is time has escaped them in some respects.

It's hard to know how much this is going to impact the campaign. For Senator Sanders, it may have sort of frozen things in place and he was certainly strong over the last couple weeks, it probably had the biggest impact on Amy Klobuchar.

She seemed to be on the rise, you know, which certainly was the time that voters would have liked to come see her and hear her message. She was unable to be here quite as much, but she is here in Iowa now. She'll be campaigning all day tomorrow. She has a late night rally here in Des Moines.

So you know, they certainly are making their case, but actually some Democrats I spoke to said that they've seen Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren more over the last week or two weeks at the impeachment trial, commenting on that between the breaks and things than they had before.

And Pete Buttigieg has sort of fallen out of the news at least somewhat, so it's hard to know what the impeachment is actually going to do.

They do have to fly back to Washington on Monday which has an effect and then they'll fly back here to Iowa. So certainly, not a very efficient use of their time, but it's a historic moment that's out of their control.

KEILAR: No, just so much has been going on. And Abby, we're expecting what's really a tight race there in Iowa. So with the possibilities for different results, how can candidates approach whatever does happen in the caucuses?

PHILLIP: Yes, that is really the big question. I mean, in an interview I had earlier today with Pete Buttigieg, she called it a fluid situation.

I mean, that is really an accurate description of what all the candidates are facing right now. Yes, we might get some last minute sense of where the race stands.

But one of the great, you know, uncertainties of all of this is going to be a couple of things. One, what is the level of turnout that's going to be on Monday night? And second of all, what's going to happen in the places where some of these candidates and there are many of them who have, you know, decent size supporters, but not enough to hit that 15 percent threshold? Where do their supporters go? That is injecting so much uncertainty into the race.

And on top of that, almost half of Iowa voters are undecided. So you know, coming out of this, it's always been kind of a case that you get a little bit of a bump coming out of Iowa. But some of that relies on the narrative and the news cycle being in your favor.

Heading into Wednesday, after the candidates are all in New Hampshire, we're going to have another impeachment drama, and we're going to have the State of the Union address, so it really calls into question whether any of these candidates are going to get the kind of bump that they might have seen in past cycles, especially given the uncertainty and the media environment that is really just not in their favor right now.

KEILAR: Abby, Jeff, Jeff David, thank you so much to all of you and stay with CNN for complete coverage of the Iowa caucuses, including the final CNN Des Moines Register poll numbers, they'll be revealed live during a CNN special event tonight at nine Eastern.

And just ahead, as the coronavirus spreads around the world the Pentagon is now getting ready to house as many as 1,000 people if they are quarantined.

Plus, the staggering new estimate of how many people may actually be infected in China alone?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:43:28]

KEILAR: An eighth case of coronavirus has just been confirmed in the U.S. and tonight, the Pentagon is preparing to house as many as 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined when they return from overseas.

Let's go to CNN Pentagon Correspondent, Barbara Starr who has been working this story. Barbara, tell us what you've learned.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, Defense Secretary Mark Esper today signed the paperwork that will allow the Pentagon to provide housing at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services for up to 1,000 people for about two weeks, plus until February 29th, is what they are looking at.

Let's go to the map and show you where these facilities are now. We know already there are nearly 200 people being housed in quarantine for coronavirus precautions at March Air Reserve Base in California, south of Los Angeles.

The other locations being earmarked, a training facility at Fort Carson, Colorado, Travis Air Force Base in Northern California, the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar near San Diego and also Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

What the Pentagon is very adamant about is military families, military personnel on these bases will not come into contact with these people. They will be isolated. They will be quarantined, and they will not be able to go to other portions of the bases, so there should be no contact.

The Pentagon is insistent that all it is doing is providing the very much needed housing, essentially for people while they are in this quarantine.

Right now, they have been asked by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide up to 1,000 beds. But at the moment, it's not very definitive how many people will be returning to the U.S. from these locations and exactly how many beds the Pentagon is going to have to wind up providing -- Brianna.

[18:45:16]

KEILAR: All right, Barbara, thank you for that update from the Pentagon. Let's go to China now and CNN Beijing bureau senior producer, Steven Jiang is there for us. Steven, there's nearly 60 million people who are under lockdown in cities in China. What steps is China taking to stop the spread of the virus?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR BUREAU PRODUCER: Well, you know, Brianna, the numbers out of the epicenter, the Hubei Province, it's still getting grimmer by the hour.

The latest number we have just heard from the Health Authority there is on Saturday alone, almost 2,000 new cases and 45 new deaths. That's why you are seeing the authorities, they are really taking even more draconian measures to trying to contain this virus because half -- more than half the cases now happen outside of Wuhan, the provincial capital.

That means they're happening in smaller, poorer cities with even less of an infrastructure or healthcare system to deal with this kind of outbreak.

For example, in one city next to Wuhan, now the authorities there are requiring each household can only send one representative out every other day to buy groceries, and everyone else has to stay in at all time, and that's just one example.

In other parts of China, officials are resorting to high tech devices such as drones equipped with loudspeakers to monitor the local populations' movement, you know, really trying to get their message across as well to tell people to stay indoors and to wear a mask if they have to be out and about.

But still even these grim numbers, according to some researchers are not really reflecting the reality on the ground.

In one study published last Friday, the estimate was in Wuhan alone, there were already more than 75,000 cases as of a week ago. Now, we have been hearing at least some anecdotal evidence to support that. People, they are all complaining a lot of frustration about them not getting tested for this virus, even when they are showing symptoms.

Some people on the ground were even telling us that their loved ones who died recently of pneumonia were not tested for this virus either, even though they could very well have been struck down by this coronavirus, instead of common pneumonia -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And Steven, tell us how China is responding to a travel ban by the U.S. that is going to affect a lot of Chinese nationals possibly.

JIANG: That's right. They were not very happy about it. Actually, on Friday after the U.S. announced this travel ban, the Foreign Ministry actually came out to lash out at the U.S. government, you know, for these so-called unfriendly moves saying that the U.S. was actually going against the World Health Organization, their advice for not imposing such bands on China, saying this is certainly U.S. showing no sympathy or empathy -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Steven Jiang, thank you so much, in Beijing for us.

And just ahead, an emotional night for the Los Angeles Lakers as they played their first game since the death of Kobe Bryant and paid tribute to the NBA legend.

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[18:52:51]

KEILAR: In their first game since the deadly crash, the Los Angeles Lakers honored NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna and the seven others who lost their lives in a helicopter accident.

Mourners paid their respects outside of the Staples Center. Inside the arena, there were seats draped with shirts from one of Kobe's two Lakers jerseys, following musical performances from Usher and Boys 2 Men, LeBron James gave an emotional tribute starting with reading the names of all nine victims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: I want to acknowledge all the lives that was last Sunday morning. Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christine Mauser, Ara Zabayan, Gianna Bryant, and Kobe Bryant.

The first thing that come to my mind is all about family, and as I look around his arena we're all grieving. We're all hurt. We're all heartbroken.

But I look at this, I look at this as a celebration tonight. This is this is a celebration of the 20 years of the blood, the sweat, the tears, the broken down body that's getting up extended down to everything, the countless hours, the determination to be as great as he could be.

Tonight, we celebrate the kid that came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best daddy we've seen over the last three years, man.

I want to continue along with my teammates to continue his legacy not only for this year, but as long as we can play the game of basketball that we love because that's what Kobe Bryant would want.

So in the words of Kobe Bryant, Mamba out. But in the words of us, not forgotten. Live on, brother.

[18:55:11]

KEILAR: Bryant's widow Vanessa later posted this picture from the game of two reserved seats covered in roses displaying Kobe and Gianna's jerseys.

Kobe Bryant, his daughter and all of the victims of the crash are also set to be honored at the Super Bowl tomorrow night. And that is it for us. I'm Brianna Keilar, thank you so much for watching. Newsroom with Ana Cabrera is next.

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