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Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is Interviewed about Impeachment; Iowa Voters Caucus Tonight; Trump's Acquittal and Democrats. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 3, 2020 - 08:30   ET

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


[08:30:00]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A huge chasm, but that they should have been in touch about some things?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): Well, it takes two to be in touch and Donald Trump doesn't like to interact with anybody who doesn't agree with him or who gives him a hard time. Let's see who's going to be the adult in the room tomorrow night.

CAMEROTA: Well, what do you -- I mean what do you think it's going to look like tomorrow night?

HIRONO: Well, what do you think? I'm going to go to bear witness. So -- and what I expect from Donald Trump will be boastful lies. I would be really pleasantly -- more than pleasantly surprised if he talks about uniting the country that he has done so much to divide.

CAMEROTA: I want to play for you what Republicans were saying over the weekend on the Sunday shows about where they are with making sense of President Trump's behavior. And basically you what heard was, it was wrong, it was bad, but we're not going to vote to convict.

So listen to a couple here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JONI ERNST (R-IA): He did it maybe in the wrong manner.

The president has a lot of latitude to do what he wants to do. Again, not what I would have done.

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Senator, what about that argument, which is basically that removal from office is so extreme. It's been likened to the death penalty of politics. And that they don't want to remove a president from office, as historically other, you know, lawmakers haven't wanted to do. What about that there should be something less than removal, do you understand how they're explaining that?

HIRONO: I understand but I don't agree with it because we have a constitutional responsibility to conduct an impeachment trial, which has nothing to do with an election. It's almost arguing that if the president does impeachable acts during an election year, we're not going to do our jobs, our constitutional jobs to have a trial. We should just let the electorate decide. That is not how this whole thing is supposed to work.

But I can see where they're so fearful of Donald Trump and his base that they're willing to make excuses for him. And one of the few areas that I actually thought Dershowitz had something to say was when he said, you know, the shoe test. I tell you, honestly, if Barack Obama had done this, he would have been impeached so fast it would make your head spin.

CAMEROTA: There are, as you know, a few Democrats in the Senate who also still appear to be on the fence about conviction. I'm talking about Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Doug Jones of Alabama. What do you want them to know about this upcoming vote?

HIRONO: They're going to make their decision as to what the facts are. And the fact that we didn't have the appropriate direct witnesses that the Republicans couldn't even bring themselves to listen to Bolton and others. And so that says a lot about the fear that they have for the retribution that will come down fast on them from Trump.

Now, my colleagues are going to make their own decisions based on their conscience and the evidence that was presented. I'm not going to go over there and hit them over the head or anything because we are all individually responsible as senators to do what we believe is the right thing to do based on the evidence. And that's where I am.

CAMEROTA: I understand, but if they don't vote to convict, then President Trump will be able to say that he's had a bipartisan acquittal. And I would imagine that will be disappointing to you and others.

HIRONO: I think even those of my colleagues who should they maybe bifurcate their decision on conviction, I think that they would certainly agree that we should have had the witnesses that we wanted. And on that we are very clear. So this is hardly what you call a complete trial with all of the relevant documents and evidence that should be presented in a trial.

And can I just saying something about -- I was listening to your commentators before I came on about what a big tent the Democrats have. You know, we may have ideological breadth but we agree on certain things, such as health care is a right, which is something that the -- President Trump is trying to undo in front of the Supreme Court. And if he wins in that argument, people with pre-existing conditions will not be protected in spite of the fact that he lies about it in front of audiences and at his rallies.

And the second thing that we totally agree on is, we want to protect Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid for our seniors and our people, something that Trump is going to get his fingers into as he starts talking about what he calls entitlement reform to help pay for his $1.5 trillion in tax cuts.

[08:35:04]

So, yes, the Democrats have a wide tent, but we agree on certain fundamental things that have to do with helping people as opposed to screwing them over.

CAMEROTA: Senator Mazie Hirono, we thank you for your time this morning.

HIRONO: Sure.

CAMEROTA: All right, so what does a win in Iowa mean for the rest of the primary season? Only one man knows. His name's Harry Enten.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: The first in the nation Iowa caucuses are tonight and they will give us our first take of how voters feel about this Democratic field and how candidates are turning out the vote.

So let's get "The Forecast" with CNN's senior politics writer and analyst Harry Enten.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICS WRITER AND ANALYST: I'm seated. What the heck's going on?

CAMEROTA: You've made it to the table.

ENTEN: I've made it. I've finally -- I'm moving on up.

CAMEROTA: You've made it to the grown-up table.

ENTEN: I'm like the Jeffersons.

CAMEROTA: Congratulations.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK.

So for our viewers who want to save time today, who's going to win tonight?

ENTEN: Yes, I'm not going to answer that question on air, but I will say that I don't know. I really, really don't know. And one of the reasons I don't know is, if you look back in past years and you take a look at the accuracy of polling predictiveness, it just, simply put, hasn't been that predictive.

[08:40:04]

If you look at candidates who get greater than -- who are polling greater than 5 percent in the vote, what do we see in the past years of polling? We see that the average error per candidate is five points. Look at the margin of error around the candidate, plus or minus 14 points. That means, essentially, that as long as the polls are close, and they are this year, we really don't know who's going to win, and that's why turnout is going to be so important. That's why you should stay tuned tonight.

CAMEROTA: But why do Iowa polls stink so much?

ENTEN: Well, you know, that's a nice way of putting it. They try their best, but, you know, there are really these weird rules in Iowa, how we're going to determine the winners, right? So, you know, we have the 15 percent threshold in those individual caucuses. And if you don't reach 15 percent, then there's realignment of those candidates' support to other candidates.

But it's also the fact that we're not actually going to determine the winner based upon the popular vote, right? We're going to determine it based upon statewide delegate equivalents. And that's a very weird system that's -- they are proportioned to previous year general election turnout. It's just very, very strange.

CAMEROTA: And also, I've learned, that not all districts in Iowa are created equal.

ENTEN: Yes, that's exactly right. You know, so if you were to look at the attendees per delegate, the rural areas get a lot more power than the college towns. Take a look at -- you know, if you look on the screen, what you see is, you know, it's 200 people per delegate, essentially, in the college towns versus oftentimes less than 70, less than 60, less than 50 people to get a delegate in these rural areas. So the rural areas really have a lot more power than the urban areas have.

CAMEROTA: What does history tell us?

ENTEN: Yes. So this is another thing. If you look back say at 2016, we have an estimate of what the popular vote kind of looked like in the statewide delegate equivalent. And what do we see in that initial preference, Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders by 3 points. But if you look how that actually translated to statewide delegate equivalents, what do we see? We see Hillary Clinton's margin shrunk significantly. She only won by 0.3 percentage points. So we could see major shifts in the vote tonight from initial vote to statewide delegate equivalents.

CAMEROTA: I know you've looked at the different Democratic candidates and where they are expected to do well.

ENTEN: Yes. So if, you know, I basically have these four little things for the different candidates. You know, Joe Biden, where I expect he will do well in catholic areas, like around Dubuque, the rural areas, maybe he's someone who benefits from the statewide delegate equivalent weirdo rules.

Look at Pete Buttigieg. We think he's going to do well in the well- educated suburbs, like west Des Moines.

Elizabeth Warren, she also does better among well-educated voters. Maybe she'll do better in Cedar Rapids. She also seems to do OK with college voters, so we expect that in college towns.

And Bernie Sanders, college towns, college towns, college towns, as well as working class areas in the urban areas.

So each of the candidates have to do well in their own areas. Hope for a boost in turnout. And that, themselves, will help perhaps get them over the top.

CAMEROTA: What time are we going to know something tonight?

ENTEN: Yes, you know, I think this is so important. I went back and looked at the past few cycles and said, when were these races called? And you can see, they really sort of varied, right? If you had high single digit wins for a Huckabee and Obama, they were called in the 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. hour. Less than 100 vote wins for Santorum. That is less than a 1 point win for Clinton in 2016. That was, you know, called less than a day, but still took a while. And in 2016, with the Republicans, a 3 point win for Cruz, the 10:00 p.m. hour.

That's my bet, but we'll see.

CAMEROTA: And also I know, very quickly, you looked at weather. What's the weather going to be in Iowa today?

ENTEN: It's going to be around 30 degrees in Des Moines around caucus time, perhaps a slight chance of mixed precipitation.

CAMEROTA: Childs play for them, childs play.

ENTEN: But that's child play. I don't expect it will greatly interfere with turnout.

CAMEROTA: Harry Enten, really interesting. Thank you for walking us through all of that.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK. Here's what else to watch today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ON SCREEN TEXT: 11:00 a.m. ET, Impeachment closing arguments.

2:00 p.m. ET, Lev Parnas court hearing.

8:00 p.m. ET, Iowa caucuses begin.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: OK, as the impeachment trial of President Trump wraps up, the political question for Democrats is, will it have helped or hurt them in November. We get "The Bottom Line," next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:48:12]

CAMEROTA: What has the political impact of President Trump's impeachment been? Will it have helped or hurt Democrats come November? Will it have helped or hurt the president?

Joining us now is CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod and CNN senior political commentator and former Michigan governor, Jennifer Granholm.

Great to see both of you this morning.

Let me start with the president's case or what Republicans' will -- seem to be making about their argument for November given what's happened with impeachment. Here's Lamar Alexander yesterday on "Meet the Press."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): I said he shouldn't have done it. And now I think it's up to the American people to say, OK, good economy, lower taxes, conservative judges, behavior that I might not like, call to Ukraine, weigh that against Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders and pick a president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Governor Granholm, what do you think of that calculus as laid out by Lamar Alexander, bad behavior, good by-products of this administration, is that what we'll hear for the next 10 months?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm sure you'll hear that from the Republicans. But from the Democrats, if we are wise, we're going to take advantage of the fact that, for example, he is under water in every one of the swing states that we have to win and that the behavior of the Republicans has been to aid and abet this behavior that Lamar Alexander and all these others Republicans, if you talk to them privately, agree was wrong.

Just as an example, in Michigan, my state, by 16 points people believe that he did something wrong. Independents across the country and certainly women across the country overwhelmingly believe that he did something wrong. And the fact that you have all these senators who voted to avoid witnesses, to prevent witnesses from coming just means that they are aiding and abetting in what Democrats will portray as a cover-up.

[08:50:02]

CAMEROTA: David Axelrod, impeachment, will it have helped or hurt Democrats come November?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, one thing we should note is that November is an eternity away in our politics and there will be 100 or more intervening events between now and then. So it's really hard to gauge what the long-term impact is.

But it's interesting what Lamar Alexander is saying because he -- he's essentially undercutting the president. The president wants to claim exoneration. And what Alexander is saying, guilty but not impeachable. And you're going to hear a number of Republicans say that in the next few days to try and justify their vote.

I mean some people will hear what Alexander says, kind of a Foustian (ph) bargin. Well, yes, he cheated and he stonewalled Congress, but the results are good and so we're going to overlook that and let the people decide. But -- and there is a colorable argument for why impeaching would be -- removing a president this way, never been done before, would be convulsive to the country.

But I think it makes it more difficult for the president to claim that he's been exonerated when his own folks are saying, well, he's not really exonerated, we just didn't think it was a removable offense.

CAMEROTA: But, Governor Granholm, just help me understand this because our whole political lives we have heard James Carville's, you know, warning, it's the economy, stupid. So bad behavior is what Senator Alexander is saying, good economy. And good economy wins.

GRANHOLM: Well, good economy will not necessarily win this time. First of all, we don't know that it's going to be a good economy. It's a good economy for those who have stocks right now. But look at the manufacturing sector, again, in these key states that he has to win, in the industrial Midwest. You're seeing the largest contraction in manufacturing since June of 2008. In these states, in the rural areas, you are seeing a record number of farm bankruptcies, the highest in eight years. So the economy might be working for some people.

But even over on Fox they had a poll the other day that had, yes, we all acknowledge the economy is doing well, but still his unfavorability numbers exceed those who think the economy is doing well. So we've never had a situation where you have a president with -- who's never been on top in terms of his favorability and especially when you add to this economy.

AXELROD: Yes.

GRANHOLM: So it tells you that it's overwhelming how bad his behavior is dragging down the good news of the economy.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Axe.

AXELROD: You know, I think that's absolutely right. This is a mystery, or I should say it's an anomaly. Never have we seen a president with high approval ratings on the economy languishing in the low-to-mid- 40s. He's never broken 50 in terms of his approval rating. And that is a commentary on his behavior. I hesitate to use the word behavior, however, relative to what happened in Ukraine. I mean behavior is like you eat your desert before you eat your -- you know, your main meal. That's what I call bad behavior. You know, shaking down a foreign leader to smear your political opponent and then trying to stonewall Congress from looking at it sounds to me like more than behavior, but that's how I think people like Alexander are trying to square their conscience and their politics. And I think you'll hear Republicans do it.

One point I want to make, Alisyn, before I go. There was a couple of others things that happened yesterday. Lindsey Graham said he was going to launch a counter attack against Joe Biden because of impeachment. A counter-attack, as if, you know -- so you have senators saying, yes, what the president did he -- what they say he did, he did, and it was wrong. And now we're going to launch a counter-attack. What does that mean? I mean what -- that just -- it was -- it was deeply concerning.

And then Joni Ernst, the senator from Iowa, said, well, we might impeach Biden on the first day because of Ukraine, when it is -- no one has proven even to the slightest degree that Biden himself had done anything wrong. So those were kind of troubling rumors -- troubling tremors coming out of these Republicans yesterday. And we'll see where it leads.

CAMEROTA: I noticed those coming attractions as well. And we will see if they ever want to explain the details of what they have in store.

GRANHOLM: Do you say coming distractions? Nice.

CAMEROTA: Well, I didn't, but well played.

Governor Granholm, David Axelrod, thank you both very much.

OK, John, the Kansas City Chiefs won. I don't know if you knew that.

BERMAN: They are, in fact, Super Bowl champions. But I have to say, there are other winners this morning. And I, of course, am talking about Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. Their performances last night were electrifying.

[08:55:01]

And that's a moment right there, what you're seeing right there is a moment. Jennifer Lopez singing with her daughter, by the way. But in Miami, which is such an international city, 70 percent Latino, this moment of Latin pride just setting the world on fire right there. So you can look at this -- there's the superficial level, which some of us watched it at, but there's a lot of depth beyond that as well, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, and, I mean, I think what you're alluding to is that there's also politics infused in it, as there seems to be in everything. It has not been an easy year to be his panic in this country. And last night, you know, who -- I'll speak for myself, who didn't want to be Hispanic last night? I mean they were such a tour de force of, you know, Latin power and draping herself in the flag, but having it be a dual flag. You know, there was just a lot of messages there and visuals that I know you enjoyed, John.

BERMAN: They can dance pretty well.

Alisyn, thank you very much.

CNN's coverage of the Iowa caucuses and the impeachment trial continues after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:00:00]