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Closing Arguments in Impeachment Trial; More Senators say Trump's Actions aren't Impeachable; Chiefs Beat 49ers; Normalizing Trump's Lies. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired February 3, 2020 - 06:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Today the Senate will reconvene for closing arguments in President Trump's impeachment trial. The final vote on whether to remove Mr. Trump from office will happen on Wednesday where he is expected to be acquitted.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live on Capitol Hill.

So what is the latest there, Suzanne?


Well, we're just hours away from the House impeachment managers, as well as Trump's legal team, they're going to be making their closing arguments and then they will make way for the senators. They'll take to the floor to give their remarks on Tuesday. And then a vote to acquit the president on Wednesday.


MALVEAUX (voice over): Despite Senate Republicans ready to acquit President Trump, some of his top GOP supporters are now saying it was wrong for the president to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): The president has a lot of latitude to do what he wants to do. Again, not what I would have done, but certainly, again, going after corruption.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: If it's not something you would have done, why wouldn't you have done it, because it was wrong, because it was inappropriate?

ERNST: I think, generally speaking, going after corruption would be the right thing to do. He did it --

TAPPER: No, but going after the Bidens?

ERNST: He did it maybe in the wrong manner.

TAPPER: In the wrong manner.

ERNST: But I think he could have done it through different channels.

MALVEAUX: The admissions coming after the Justice Department acknowledged the existence of blocked emails that could provide more insight on why Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine. Still, senators like Lamar Alexander arguing Trump's conduct was not impeachable, defending his choice to vote against witnesses and new evidence in the trial.

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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, who decides what to do about that?

ALEXANDER: The people. The people is my conclusion.

MALVEAUX: Lead House impeachment manager Adam Schiff saying it's not enough for Republicans to just say Trump's conduct was inappropriate.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I also think it's important that the Senate take the next step, having found him guilty, if indeed that's what they have found, they need to remove him from office because he is threatening to still cheat in the next election by soliciting foreign interference.

MALVEAUX: Trump ally and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham looking to vindicate Trump, vowing to issue subpoenas for the Ukraine call whistleblower and former Vice President Joe Biden to testify even after this week's vote.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): And let me tell Republicans out there, you should expect us to do this. If we don't do it, we're letting you down. And I guarantee you if it were -- if the shoe were on the other foot, Democrats would be eating us alive.

MALVEAUX: And for the Democrats, Schiff declining to say whether the House will subpoena former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

SCHIFF: But I will say this, whether it's before -- in testimony before the House or it's in his book or it's in one form or another, the truth will come out as -- will continue to come out.


MALVEAUX: And the trial will wrap up on Wednesday. There is no doubt at all that the president will be acquitted on Wednesday. And when it's all said and done, this will go down in history as the shortest impeachment trial of a president and one without any witness testimony.


CAMEROTA: Suzanne, thank you very much for wrapping all of that up. So, where is the accountability? If Republicans believe that the --

what the president did was wrong and bad, what is their plan to keep it from happening again? That's next.



CAMEROTA: Closing arguments start today in President Trump's impeachment trial. On Sunday, Republican senators defended their decision to block witnesses, though some concede that the president was very wrong.


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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, who decides what to do about that?

ALEXANDER: The people. The people is my conclusion.


CAMEROTA: All right.

Joining us now, CNN political analyst Rachael Bade, she's a congressional reporter for "The Washington Post," and CNN's senior political analyst John Avalon.

Great to see both of you.

So, John, that's where we've landed today. Republicans think that what he did was wrong. They're not comfortable with using taxpayer money to go on your own political errand. They're not comfortable using your own personal attorney to conduct foreign policy. They're not comfortable having a foreign country launch investigations into your political rivals. They don't like any of that. And when he was asked, Senator Lamar Alexander was asked, do you think that President Trump has learned his lesson, do you think he might do this again, Senator Alexander said, quote, I hope not.


CAMEROTA: That's where we are. That's the accountability that I guess that Congress is going to have.

AVLON: Yes, that's -- that's the definition of the triumph of hope over experience because the whole problem is there's a pattern here.

Look, Republican senators have had to contort themselves to excuse their no witnesses vote. Basically saying that contrary to what the Trump legal team argued, that the evidence exonerated the president, that, no, it didn't, he's guilty. What he did was wrong. I don't even need to see more witnesses, that's how convinced I am that what the president did was wrong and his team didn't tell the truth.

But, it's improper, not impeachable. OK. That's a problem too because it shows a fundamental misunderstanding, or lack of willingness to look at what the founding fathers wanted impeachment to apply for. Foreign powers interfering with our elections is basic and they're giving it a pass for partisan purposes. But they're -- they're in a pickle and they don't want to deal with the facts.

CAMEROTA: Rachael, what they're doing is crossing their fingers it sounds like. I mean they're -- I've heard more than just Senator Alexander say I sure hope -- I'm sure he's learned his lesson. I sure hope he has. I mean I've heard that a couple of times now. And so is there any talk beyond crossing their fingers of any sort of accountability or punishment?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Democrats, you hear privately some of them talk about censure. Well, if Republicans aren't willing to impeach the president and remove him, maybe they would vote for censuring Trump.


But the reality is that, you know, we were asking Republicans about that a couple of days ago and a lot of them really pushed back on this idea. And if you think about the number of Republicans who have actually said what Trump did was inappropriate, you could probably count on two hands the number of hundreds of Republicans in both chamber who are willing to actually say that. So them actually going out and saying that Trump did something wrong on record and a censure vote seems really unlikely, at least at this point, from my reporting.

But, I mean, John is right, right there. What sort of -- if you're not going to impeach the president and you're not willing to say what he did was wrong, what does this mean for Trump going forward? I mean we just have to look back a couple of months ago, the day after Mueller came in and testified on Capitol Hill. It was largely sort of panned, the whole hearing. It didn't go the way Democrats wanted it to. The very next day was the phone call in which he asked Ukraine, you know, to do him a favor. And so without being impeached and without being -- or with being impeached but not being acquitted -- or being acquitted, not being removed, with Republicans unwilling to say what he did was wrong, is Trump going to feel sort of freed and like he has this new sort of ability to do things that, you know, other lawmakers would find problematic but Republicans are not willing to say is not OK.

CAMEROTA: That is a distinct possibility, I would say.

But, John, hold your thought for a minute because I just -- Rachael, I want to stick with you for one more second because of your reporting. You said -- you have some reporting that Senator Lindsey Graham is threatening a counteroffensive in the coming weeks.

BADE: Yes.

CAMEROTA: He says, quote, we're not going to let it go. So though they won, for all intents and purposes, the president has not been removed from office, he's going to be acquitted, it looks like, what is a counteroffensive from the Senate look like?

BADE: Yes. So Lindsey Graham was on TV yesterday talking about how Senate Republicans need to call in the whistleblower, even though this is over. He pushed his colleague Richard Burr, who runs the Intel Committee, to do that. He said his colleague Jim Risch, who runs the Foreign Affairs Committee, needs to bring in former Obama administration State Department officials to ask why they allowed Hunter Biden to sit on this board when Joe Biden was the president.

But part of me wonders, was he trying to speak to an audience of one? I mean, obviously, the president is unhappy about being impeached. He's going to have his acquittal very soon. But, you know, Lindsey Graham has been talking about this for a couple of months now and, you know, they haven't really done anything about it. So part of me wonders is, is this just, you know, him firing up the rhetoric the way the president wants him to, fight fire with fire?


BADE: We'll see if they actually make these moves to, you know, call in the whistleblower privately or bring in Obama officials. But from my understanding, there's a lot of Republicans who just want to move on and they're not interested in that. So we'll see what Graham ends up doing.

CAMEROTA: John, what's the answer to that?

AVLON: The answer is, yes. This whole three ring circus has been done for an audience of one. All the Republicans' legal team's arguments were basically discarded by Republicans who had to come up with the rationale to want -- not want to see witnesses. This is how polarization short circuits our system. Remember, his remove number is -- the president's remove number is higher than his approve number. But they look like they're going to continue to try -- and Joni Ernst said it on "State of the Union" yesterday, to prosecute this idea, not rooted in fact, that Joe Biden is somehow corrupt. They're going to do it in the court of public opinion to try to take him off the field in the election, which is why the president raised it in the first place.

CAMEROTA: And here we are.

Rachael, John, thank you, both, very much.

OK, now to this. It was five decades in the making. Kansas City won the Super Bowl thanks to a young phenom who was just waving at me there. Coy Wire brings us the highlights from Miami, next.



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, for the first time in 50 years, the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions.

Coy wire with the highlights in the "Bleacher Report" live from Miami. And, Coy, I have to tell you, I'm here in Iowa. I desperately needed

to go to sleep, but it was impossible because the game was just too good.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It was. Yes, you couldn't turn away, John, I'm with you. And, hey, can we just call Kansas City the comeback kids? As you know, John, they came from back down 10 and 24 points in their previous two playoff games to make it to their first Super Bowl in half a century. And now this, a stunning comeback to win it all.

Let's check the highlights.

They were down ten with seven minutes to go. And Patrick Mahomes was looking human. Two interceptions so far, but the 24-year-old phenom finding that Mahomes magic. A haymaker to Tyreek Hill gave them a spark. And then Mahomes would go on and throw two touchdowns in about four minutes, including this pass to Damien Williams, who, watch him stretching across the goal line there. Barely giving Kansas City the lead. Mahomes looking to become the first quarterback in NFL history to lead three double-digit comebacks in a single post season.

Well, then, Williams puts this one out of reach for good. And 31-20 is the final. The Chiefs, after decades of heartbreak, are champions. Head Coach Andy Reid no longer the winningest coach without a Super Bowl title. And Mahomes, the youngest player ever to win league MVP and a Super Bowl. He talked with us moments after the game.



PATRICK MAHOMES, SUPER BOWL MVP: Hey, we're coming home. It's going to be amazing. Everybody be out there for the parade. We're bringing the Lombardi home.

ANDY REID, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS HEAD COACH: And I got a great bunch of guys, man. They're phenomenal. So I could coach another 20 years with this group.

WIRE: The comeback kids, how?

REID: Heart, man. You know that. It's heart. So, I'm proud of them.

WIRE: You're just the third African-American quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl. What does your story -- what does that message send to kids all across America?

MAHOMES: I think it just means, no matter where you come from, no matter -- no matter how you were raised or what race you are, that you can -- you can go out and follow your dreams. And that's what I've always believed. No one thought I was going to be a football player. Everybody thought I was going to be a baseball player. But I followed my dreams and now I'm here winning the Super Bowl with all my teammates.


WIRE: Yes, one of those teammates has been one of the stars for the Kansas City Chiefs all season. Tight end Travis Kelce was the first tight end to have four consecutive 1,000 yards receiving in NFL history. And his brother won a Super Bowl with the Eagles. Now he has won one himself. He was quite happy when we caught up with him after the game as well.


TRAVIS KELCE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TIGHT END: Whoo! Man, that feels -- it feels unbelievable, man. You can't tell me nothing. Can't tell me nothing, baby. World champ. World champ for the rest of my life. And I got the ring and the hardware to prove it.

WIRE: And how about Patrick Mahomes becoming just the third African- American quarterback to win a Super Bowl? What's his journey say to kids across the country?

KELCE: It tells you anything is possible, baby. If your dreams ain't bigger than you, there's something wrong with your dream.


WIRE: The Mahomes magic is everywhere here in south Florida. He's inspiring generations all across the country.

And, Alisyn, I understand your kids are big Patrick Mahomes fans, so they can have that shirt. And also I got confetti from the field.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

WIRE: I'm going to send that up to New York. I did the same for John when his Patriots won the Super Bowl. So this confetti will be at your house very soon.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. They'll be so excited, Coy. Thank you for that. They will be thrilled.

WIRE: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. That was awesome.

OK, can we talk about the halftime show. Something important, John.


CAMEROTA: That was spell-binding. It was remarkable. What Shakira and J. Lo were able to do, I mean, on so many levels it fired. It was just -- I mean I could talk about it in terms of their age. I could talk about it in terms of just their sheer power and talent. And we can talk about it in terms of them both being Latina. And, you know, obviously that sends a message. This has not been an easy year to be Hispanic in this country. And last night everybody was proud to be Hispanic because they are just such dynamos. BERMAN: I was blown away. I honestly -- I usually turn the volume down

at halftime. And I was watching Shakira without the volume on for the beginning and I could not believe what I was seeing. She's the type of person I would like to go dancing with because I think she'd be fun to dance with, Alisyn, let me just put it that way.

The amazing thing was I got out of the cold shower in time to see the comeback at the end of the Super Bowl game.

CAMEROTA: That's awesome. Are you aware that she sings? She actually can sing. Or do you know that about her?

BERMAN: I think she's terrific. I thought she's been terrific since 2001 when she came out with the "Laundry Service" album. She's awesome.

CAMEROTA: She is awesome. And J. Lo's no slouch either, just saying.

John, thank you.

Hold your thought on that. We have so much more to come.

President Trump claims he's the healthiest president, but he won't show his medical records. He also says he's a billionaire, but he won't reveal his tax returns. He also says he's the smartest, but he threatened his colleges if they ever revealed his grades. An eye- opening "Reality Check," next.



CAMEROTA: So here's a question, if you were a great student, would you hide your grades? Well, it turns out much of what President Trump claims to be the best at, he hides the evidence of. John Avlon has our "Reality Check."

What do you mean, John?

AVLON: Well, let me tell you, Ali.

So, is it now OK to lie because the president does it? Because that's what Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley asked when he voted to remove Bill Clinton from office, and it's still a relevant question because let's not forget President Trump and his lawyers have said this from the beginning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has done absolutely nothing wrong.


AVLON: But to block witnesses, GOP senators like Lamar Alexander had to give that argument the Heisman.


SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): I think it was wrong, inappropriate. The question for me was, do I need more evidence to conclude that the president did what he did? And I concluded, no.


AVLON: In other words, even some of the president's defenders now admit that the president did do something wrong, that they'll vote to acquit, even as they admit it. But they should know that President Trump's not going to change. The man is routinely at war with the truth and so the impulse to cover up is constant, from big things to small, and it goes way back.

So, if you take the self-styled, very stable genius at his word, you might wonder why he won't let anyone see his grades. Here's a direct witness.


MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP'S FORMER ATTORNEY: I'm talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the college board to never release his grades or SAT scores.


AVLON: This extends to his health. So you remember that doctor's note Trump released during the campaign, the one that said his physical strength and stamina are extraordinary and predicted that he would be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency? Well, it turns out that Trump dictated that note to his doctor. And after Trump's inauguration, his doctor said his office was raided and his medical files seized.

Of course the candidate who argued that he was so rich he couldn't be bought said he wanted to release this tax returns but was under audit has gone to extraordinary lengths to block the release of said tax returns, even taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Lies about little things, like saying he doesn't watch cable news, doesn't pay attention to the stock market, which even a passing glance at his Twitter feed would tell you isn't true.


And with a track record like that, no one should be surprised that when this president says --