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AT THIS HOUR

Sen. Doug Jones Announces He Will Vote to Remove President Trump; Results Still Coming in from Iowa Caucus; Race Moves to New Hampshire as Iowa Results in Flux; Soon, U.S. Senate Will Vote on Whether to Impeachment or Acquit President Trump; House Democrats Signal They'll Subpoena Bolton for His Testimony; Trump-Pelosi Tension on Full Display at SOTU; Factchecking Trump's SOTU on Economy; Sen. Doug Jones Speaks from Senate Floor on Impeachment Vote. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired February 5, 2020 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very watched vote in the impeachment trial, the vote by the Senate just this afternoon, Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat from Alabama but in a very tough race in a red state, he has just announced that he will vote to remove the president.

I'm going to quote here now. "After many sleepless nights "I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress."

The Democrat, Doug Jones, voting to remove the president on both articles of impeachment. That's news. We'll continue to monitor that as well as all the news today.

Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Jim Sciutto.

"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me once again.

Two big stories this hour. The historic impeachment of President Trump is about to come to an end. The final vote in the Senate on whether to convict the president is set to take place in just a few hours.

While the ultimate outcome is not in doubt, we are waiting to hear where some wavering Senators will land, like red state Democratic Senator Doug Jones. He's expected to speak on the Senate floor really any moment about his intentions. When he speaks, you will hear it here.

The other story line that we're watching really closely is the state of the race for the White House. Results are still coming in from Iowa. Yes, nearly 48 hours after the caucuses. Pete Buttigieg remains in a tight lead -- maintaining a tight lead over Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Elizabeth Warren is in third and former Vice President Joe Biden in fourth, as you see right there.

The Iowa Democratic Party is set to release more -- is the Iowa Democratic Party going to be releasing more if not all of the remaining results any time soon? We are watching all of that.

I spoke with Pete Buttigieg yesterday. Let me play you what he said about the significance of the results so far. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & FORMER SOUTH BEND MAYOR: This is definitely a victory for this campaign. I know we've got some more math coming in, but any way you cut it, for a campaign that folks said had no business even daring to try to get on the stage a year ago, we've been able to do something extraordinary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Today, all of the top candidates are in New Hampshire ahead of the primary next week. As you can see right there on your screen, they were holding events all around the state right now.

We have reporters covering it all for you. Let's start with Vanessa Yurkevich, who is following Pete Buttigieg.

Vanessa, it's as if just yesterday we were together at Laconia Middle School at Laconia, New Hampshire, because we were.

What are you hearing from the Buttigieg campaign today?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Yes, the mindset of the Buttigieg campaign today is don't fix what's not broken. They feel like one of the things that helped Buttigieg in Iowa was doing multiple events, traveling the entire state, meeting as many voters as he possibly could.

They are going to do this here in New Hampshire. You were with us just yesterday where he did seven events across the state.

Another part of this momentum and capitalizing on it is fundraising. The campaign said that in the hour after these results were released that showed Pete Buttigieg just ahead of Bernie Sanders, that the campaign has said that they raised the most money ever in that single hour.

And this will be important as we continue to hear more of these results and whether or not Pete Buttigieg really is the winner.

It will be important to his continued fundraising, which, Kate, as we know will help him through some of these other early voting states like Nevada and South Carolina where he is not polling as well as he has been in Iowa and also here in New Hampshire -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Also swinging into the all-important Super Tuesday states as well.

It's great to see you, Vanessa. Thank you so much.

Let's go over to Rebecca Buck, following Senator Bernie Sanders right now.

What are you hearing from him, Rebecca?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Hi, Kate. Well, we're here in Derry, New Hampshire, where Senator Sanders is set to kick off an event in the building behind me any minute now.

But there's no question that there's some frustration among his campaign and among Senator Sanders himself about the way that Iowa played out. Despite the fact that they were very strong in the caucuses, they're neck in neck with Pete Buttigieg, clearly this was not the moment that they thought it could be for their campaign.

So their focus very much turning now to New Hampshire as another opportunity for them to really make waves in this race as his status as the frontrunner if not the Democratic frontrunner.

Last night, in Milford, New Hampshire, Sanders said he intends to win here in the Granite State. Of course, he won here in 2016 and he's been leading in the polls we've seen, thus far. So he does have an advantage going into the primary next week.

However, I can't emphasize this enough, how important these final days are going to be in this primary race, how fluid the race remains. Not even necessarily because of Iowa. New Hampshire voters take their role very seriously and view this as sort of an independent consideration.

But I spoke with three voters inside. It's a relatively small venue, not too many people there in this small town. All three of those voters, Kate, said they are still undecided. And two of them said they're thinking of supporting Pete Buttigieg.

So Sanders really needing to close the deal here today and over the next few days here in New Hampshire -- Kate?

[11:05:05]

BOLDUAN: Fascinating.

Great to see you, Rebecca. Thank you.

Let's get over to M.J., following Senator Elizabeth Warren.

M.J., what's her pitch this morning to folks in Nashua?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, you will recall that Senator Warren flew here to New Hampshire overnight in the early hours of Tuesday not knowing what happened in Iowa amid the chaos and the delayed results.

Yesterday, we heard Senator Warren say here in New Hampshire that she thought there would be a three-way tight race at the top in Iowa and she was feeling good about that. Of course, since some of the results came out last night, we now know,

as you said, it is Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders who are locked at the top and Senator Warren in third place. So we'll see if she addresses those partial results here in Nashua.

But what is clear is that Senator Warren is now determined to tell voters that she is entirely focused on the state of New Hampshire. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): We've got New Hampshire in just a week. Are we ready to do New Hampshire?

(CHEERING)

WARREN: And we've got 55 more states and territories all around this country that want their voices heard.

This is democracy in action. And what that means is it is the moment for us. It's the moment right here in New Hampshire to dig down deep. It's the moment right here in New Hampshire to choose courage over fear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEE: Of course, New Hampshire is a state that Senator Warren is very much familiar with. She has spent a lot of time here because this is a neighboring state of Massachusetts. She is certainly hoping that the home state advantage will give her a boost here in New Hampshire -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: M.J., thank you so much.

Let's get over to Arlette Saenz, following former Vice President Joe Biden. She's in Somersworth.

Arlette, what are you hearing today?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the race hasn't even been called in Iowa yet, but Joe Biden is very eager to move on past Iowa and start focusing on the states ahead and that starts right here in New Hampshire. You can see folks are lining up behind me to see the former vice president speak here in Somersworth.

And Biden has said New Hampshire will be an uphill race for him. But he understands that he needs to have a strong showing here in the state to propel him into states like Nevada and South Carolina, which as he has described as a firewall that's going to be critical to his nomination, if he secures the nomination.

Now, in these coming days, one thing Biden is going to have to work on is pressing his electability argument, showing -- that's been one of his arguments from the start, that he is the best positioned to take on President Trump. That argument has been slightly pierced due to that expected loss he's about to face in Iowa. Today, the Biden campaign has picked up an endorsement from a key

union group, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, one of the largest unions to endorse so far in this primary race. Biden has long stressed that he is the best candidate for the labor community. So that's a message that he could carry forward in the coming days.

We've also seen him over the past day sharpen that contrast that he's trying to draw with Bernie Sanders, who happens to be leading in polls here in the state. Biden is trying to draw a contrast when it comes to Medicare For All. The campaign sees health care as a winning issue.

But these next few days are really going to be critical for Joe Biden. He needs to have a strong showing here in New Hampshire in order to propel him. He said he wants New Hampshire voters to rocket him out of New Hampshire into those upcoming caucus and primaries after this -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Arlette, thanks so much.

Guys, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

You can see Democratic candidates fanning out across New Hampshire in the days ahead.

Back in Washington, though, we are just hours away from President Trump's expected acquittal in the Senate. The question this hour is whether any Senators will be crossing party lines. Where will folks land on this vote that will follow them? This is one of those votes that folks remember, legacy votes.

One of those folks that people are watching, Democratic Senator Doug Jones, of Alabama. He just announced how he will be voting this afternoon.

CNN's Manu Raju is tracking all of this from the Hill.

Manu, what did Senator Jones say?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's going to vote with his party, with Democrats, to vote to convict the president on both counts.

This is interesting, because Doug Jones is an Alabama Democrat. He's someone running for re-election this fall, one of the most vulnerable Democrats, if not the most vulnerable Democrat in the Senate.

He had not said how he was going to vote. He had looked into this matter for some time.

He's just issued a statement saying that he will vote to convict the president both on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Part of his statement says, "After many sleepless nights, I have reluctantly concluded that the evidence is sufficient to convict the president on both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress." He is expected to detail more of his thinking on the Senate floor in a

few moments.

[11:10:01]

We're also waiting to see how some other moderate Democratic Senators come down. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, refuses to say what he will do. He said he's going to announce his decision when he's on the floor actually at 4:00 P.M. Eastern this afternoon voting for the articles or against the articles.

Also another Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona, someone who just won her race, the freshman last year, has not said yet.

Also on the Republican side, uncertain how Mitt Romney, the Utah Republican Senator, will ultimately come down as well. He has not said yet. We do expect that to be clearer later this afternoon before the vote.

At the same time, Kate, there's still talk about what will happen next after today's vote. House Democrats are signaling they are not done with their investigation. One person that they want to come testify is John Bolton, the former national security advisor.

I talked to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler about this moments ago and asked him about what they will do to pursue John Bolton. He told me they're planning to likely subpoena him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: What do you think is likely that the subpoena is going to be issued to him?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): I think it's likely, yes.

This started a year ago, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Will the investigation be Ukraine focused or also talking about other things --

NADLER: No.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- like emoluments, taxes --

(CROSSTALK)

NADLER: We're talking about everything.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Russia?

NADLER: Everything.

First of all, I think when you have a lawless president, you have to bring that to the fore. You have to spotlight that. You have to protect the Constitution, whatever the political consequences.

But second of all, no. As more and more lawlessness comes out, I presume the public will understand that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So he didn't say exact time frame for that, but of course Democrats opted not to subpoena John Bolton before the House earlier because they were concerned it would go to court.

John Bolton then said he would testify before the Senate if he got a subpoena. Republicans in the Senate blocked moving forward on any subpoenas, including to John Bolton.

Democrats indicated they do plan to push ahead. So, Kate, while today's decisive vote will acquit the president this afternoon, it's very clear the Democrats don't plan to drop their investigations and certainly don't plan to drop their pursuit of the former national security advisor, John Bolton.

BOLDUAN: Right. So in the large sense, while this is going to be over today, it is not going to be over. Jerry Nadler making it pretty clear to you just this morning.

Good to see you, Manu. Thank you so much.

Much more to come from Capitol Hill today.

Still ahead for us, the State of the Union is very clearly divided. Tension between President Trump and Nancy Pelosi on full display last night. Is that what they both wanted? We're live at the White House, next.

And later, the final results still not in from Iowa. What does that mess mean for the next state to vote, New Hampshire? The state's Democratic Party chair joins us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:17:09]

BOLDUAN: It was one part State of the Union, one part campaign rally, and a whole lot of reality show antics in between, mixed in between.

President Trump's third State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress was also perfectly and sadly emblematic of the divided politics of America today.

Starting off with the president appearing to snub the House speaker when she offered to shake his hand at the beginning. And then, the night ending with the same House speaker almost theatrically tearing up her copy of the president's speech before Congress and of all the cameras.

Here is what she later said about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why did you tear up the speech. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I put out a statement. Read my statement.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)

PELOSI: Because it was a manifesto of mistruths.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: CNN's John Harwood joins me now from the White House for more on this.

John, it was quite a night in the middle of quite a week, let's be honest. What are you hearing this morning about the president's address?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, you really captured it in that intro there. When I talk to strategists in both parties, what they're talking about is, one, there was the discussion of the economy. The strong economy is a fact, even though the president talked about it in very misleading ways.

You had broad appeals to emotion, the 100-year-old Tuskegee airman, the soldier reunited with his family. You also had the appeals to fear of immigrants that we get in Trump rallies.

And you had an epic troll by the president of Democrats by awarding the Medal of Freedom to Rush Limbaugh during the speech.

On the other hand, Nancy Pelosi did a pretty good job of trolling the president by ripping up the speech afterwards. That has certainly captured the president's attention today. He's been tweeting about it all morning.

The real question is whether any of this moves the needle with the audiences that matter, the audiences that the president was aiming for in that speech.

That is, does it, in a durable way, arouse his base more than it already was? Does it peel away a few percent of African-American votes in some of those midwestern states he needs? Does it reassure -- the reassuring parts of the speech, any of those suburban women who have turned away from him?

The polls will tell us the answers to that but we can't answer those questions right now. Most people expect, as is typical of State of the Unions, a temporary blip and it goes away in a few weeks.

BOLDUAN: And everything that came out of the speech says nothing for the reaching for more civility and unity in this country.

HARWOOD: Right.

BOLDUAN: That's such old-school thinking, we should just stop talking about it, John.

President Trump, another thing of note was he avoided mentioning impeachment last night. But are there plans today after the expected acquittal vote happens?

HARWOOD: TBD. We do not know the answer to that.

I asked Kellyanne Conway in the briefing room a few minutes ago whether we'd see the president, hear from the president after the speech. She said, I'm not sure, maybe we'll hear him one way or the other.

[11:20:06]

That is to say either in front of a camera or through Twitter online. I suspect it's more likely to be the latter, since she was pointing to that possibility.

But this is an unpredictable president, who does what he feels like in the moment. If the moment strikes, depending on whether, say, Mitt Romney becomes a Republican vote against or Kyrsten Sinema or Joe Manchin become a vote in favor of acquittal, that will govern his reaction whether we get to hear him comment on camera.

BOLDUAN: John, thank you so much.

HARWOOD: You bet.

BOLDUAN: So more about last night. Well, many will remember those made-for-TV dramatic moments. Some truly touching -- some of those moments truly touching, as John was noting, as the president paid tribute to great Americans sitting as invited guests in the hall.

President Trump also trained his focus on boasting about the state of the economy. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been.

From the instant I took office, I moved rapidly to revive the U.S. economy, slashing a record number of job-killing regulations, enacting historic and record-setting tax cuts, and fighting for fair and reciprocal trade agreements.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: The unemployment rate is the lowest in over half a century.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Since my election, U.S. stock markets have soared, 70 percent, adding more than $12 trillion to our nation's wealth, transcending anything anyone believed was possible.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Companies are not leaving. They are coming back to the USA.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: The fact is that everybody wants to be where the action is and the United States of America is, indeed, the place where the action is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Let's separate fact from fiction on this key issue impacting the lives of every American, the economy, and very much definitely a key focus when it comes to the president's re-election campaign.

Joining me is CNN's global economic analyst, Rana Foroohar.

It's good to see you, Rana.

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you being here.

The economy is good. We've talked about this. Everyone knows this. But is it the best it has ever been? Does that distinction matter to everyday Americans? And how much credit does the president get for it -- deserve for it?

FOROOHAR: Three great questions. Yes, it absolutely matters. I actually think, as is often the case, that this election may hinge on the state of the economy in November.

Is the president telling the truth? Is his assessment correct? It depends on what statistics you pick.

He's got a couple of good headline numbers. Unemployment rate lowest in recent decades. Growth? He's fiddling with the numbers a little bit there. If you look at the last quarter of growth, it's about 2.1 percent. That's actually far lower than the average for the second Obama term, which was 2.4 percent.

The president also likes to focus on the state of the markets, right? And that's great if you're one of the 12 percent of the population that owns 80 percent of the stock. Now, yes, we all own a little stock in our 401Ks but most people get most of their money from income and that's been relatively flat.

We've only seen a little uptick in lower-level jobs. Manufacturing jobs, that blue-collar boom the president was talking about, that -- those jobs are slowing. The growth in manufacturing jobs is slowing.

So it really depends on which metrics you look at. I tend to think the president is not looking at the right ones.

BOLDUAN: Rana, stick with me.

We're going to go to the Senate floor. Democratic Senator Doug Jones speaking now to explain his vote.

SEN. DOUG JONES (D-AL): -- an impartial justice, according to the same Constitution I swore to protect.

As I took the oath and throughout the impeachment trial, I couldn't help but think of my father. As many of you know, I lost my dad over the holiday recess.

While so many were arguing over whether or not the speaker of the House should send articles of impeachment to the Senate, I was struggling with watching him slip away, while only occasionally trying to weigh in with my voice to be heard about the need for witnesses in the upcoming impeachment trial.

My dad was a great man, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, who did his best to instill in me the values of right and wrong as I grew up in Fairfield, Alabama. He was also a fierce patriot who loved this country.

Although, fortunately, he was never called on to do so, I firmly believe he would have placed his country even above his family, because he knew and understood fully what America and the freedoms and liberties that come with her mean to everyone in this great country and significantly to people around the world.

I know he would have put his country before any allegiance to any political party or even to any president.

[11:24:59]

He was on the younger side of that Greatest Generation, who joined the Navy at age 17 to serve our great military. That service and love of country shaped him into the man of principle that he was, instilling in me those same principles.

I think of him, his patriotism, his principles, and how he raised me, I am reminded of Robert Kennedy's words that were mentioned in this trial: "Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence, yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change."

Candidly, to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I fear that moral courage, country before party is a rare commodity these days. We can write about it and talk about it in speeches and in the media, but it is harder to put into action when political careers may be on the line.

Nowhere is the dilemma more difficult than in an impeachment of the president of the United States.

Very early on in this process, I implored my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, in both Houses of Congress, to stay out of their political and partisan corners. Many did, but so many did not.

Even the media continually viewed this entire process through partisan political eyes and how it may or may not affect an election. That is unfortunate. The country deserves better. And we must find a way to move beyond

such partisan divides.

The solemn oaths that I have taken have been my guides during what has been a difficult time for the country, my state and for me personally.

I did not run for the Senate hoping to participate in the impeachment trial of a duly elected president. But I cannot and will not shrink from my duty to defend the Constitution and to do impartial justice.

In keeping with my oath as Senator and my oath to do impartial justice, I resolved that throughout this process I would keep an open mind to consider the evidence without regard to political affiliation and to hear all of the evidence before making a final decision on whether -- on either charge against the president.

I believe that my votes later today will reflect that commitment.

With the eyes of history upon us, I'm acutely aware of the precedence that this impeachment trial will set for future presidencies and Congresses. Unfortunately, I do not believe that those precedents are good ones.

I am particularly concerned that we have now set a precedent that the Senate does not have to go forward with witnesses or review documents, even when those witnesses have firsthand information and the documents would allow us to test not just the credibility of witnesses but also test the words of counsel of both parties. It is my firm belief that the American people deserve more.

In short, witnesses and documents would provide the Senate and the American people with a more complete picture of the truth, and I believe the American people deserve nothing less.

That's not to say, however, that there's not sufficient evidence in which to render a judgment. There is.

As a trial lawyer, I once explained this process to a jury as like putting together the pieces of a puzzle. When you open the box and spread all the pieces on the table, it's just an incoherent jumble.

But one by one, you hold those pieces up and hold them next to each other and see what fits and what doesn't. And even if, as was often the case in my house growing up, you're missing a few pieces, even important ones, you more often than not see the picture.

As I've said many times, I believe the American people deserve to see a completed puzzle, a picture with all of the pieces, pieces in the form of documents and witnesses with relevant firsthand information, which would have provided valuable context, corroboration, or contradiction to that which we have heard.

But even with missing pieces, our common sense and life's experiences allow us to see the picture as it comes into full view.

Throughout the trial, one piece of evidence continued to stand out for me. It was the president's statement that, under the Constitution, we have Article two, and I can do anything I want.

[11:30:02]

That seems to capture this president's belief about the presidency. That he has unbridled power, unchecked by Congress or the judiciary or anyone else.