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President Trump Acquitted In Impeachment Trial; Interview With Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE); Mitt Romney Votes To Remove President Trump; Buttigieg Holds Lead In Iowa As More Results Released. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 5, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:20]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM with breaking news on the final historic votes in President Trump's impeachment trial.

The U.S. Senate just acquitted the president of both articles of impeachment, voting along party lines, though with one surprise exception.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney, breaking with the GOP, found Mr. Trump guilty of the abuse of power charge. He's the first U.S. senator ever to vote to convict a president from the same party in an impeachment trial.

Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, up on Capitol Hill.

Manu, a historic day, a historic vote by Republican Senator Mitt Romney at the same time. So what's the reaction?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the reaction has been surprise from the Republican side of the aisle.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, just talked to reporters, said he was surprised and he was disappointed by Romney's vote. Democrats, however, are applauding what Mitt Romney did.

Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, applauded the move and said it was a sign of a bipartisan vote in the Senate, essentially robbing the Republicans of the argument that -- essentially, that this was all done on a partisan basis, now that Mitt Romney has broken ranks and joined on abuse of power, voting to convict the president on that charge.

But he did vote to acquit the president on obstruction of Congress. And just moments ago, Nancy Pelosi told reporters that the president -- that Mitt Romney's move was -- quote -- "very courageous."

Now, Republicans, for the most part, in the Senate say that there's not going to be any blowback that he will face internally. They said that they want to move on to the next issues.

But the questions will be the impact that -- the reaction that he will get from the president, president's allies, and then his constituents back home. But Mitt Romney explained his decision, said it was one that was made based on his faith.

And as he searched what he -- what the president did as it came to Ukraine, he found that the evidence was overwhelming and it deserved the president -- said the president did in fact abuse his power.

Now, at the same time, Wolf, a number of Republicans still are not weighing in on exactly what the president did. Mitch McConnell, when he addressed reporters, would not talk about whether or not he thought the president's conduct was appropriate in any way.

And when I asked him directly whether or not the president's actions were appropriate in asking a foreign power to investigate a political rival, he sidestepped the question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Several of your members have been critical of the president's conduct, saying it was inappropriate or shameful, as Lisa Murkowski said.

One of them, of course, today said he would vote to convict the president on abuse of power. Mitt Romney did.

Can you -- why is it OK for a president to ask another foreign country to investigate a political rival?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Now, Manu, I have been responding to you for years.

And you know that what I'm here to talk about today is the political impact of this. We have completed it. We have listened to the arguments. We have voted. It's in the rear-view mirror.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Now, McConnell was asked three other times today about whether or not the president's conduct was appropriate in any way.

And each time, he sidestepped the question. Now, what he did want to talk about, his argument was that the political impact, in his view, will be negative for Democrats, particularly Democrats in the Senate.

He said the Republicans who are running in difficult races, his argument is that they have all improved their political standing in the big -- from the beginning of the impeachment trial to now, he believes, in a stronger position now to keep the Senate majority.

And I asked the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, if he's concerned about this helping President Trump, seeing a rise in poll numbers, if this was a concern at all of his. He said no. He said this goes up and down. This will continue to go up. And what will also continue, Wolf, is the investigation in the House. Earlier today, I asked Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, if they would try to move forward with investigations, including trying to call in John Bolton, the former national security adviser.

He said they would likely issue a subpoena for John Bolton. And just moments ago, Wolf, Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, said they have not made any decisions yet on their next steps -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Manu, thank you, Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill.

The White House says President Trump will make a public statement tomorrow at noon Eastern about the impeachment vote, declaring it's a victory for the country.

Our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us.

Jim, the president wanted unanimous Republican support for keeping him in office. He didn't get it.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, he did not, Wolf.

And the White House just released a statement on the president's acquittal just a short while ago, and took a swipe -- no surprise here -- at Senator Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Mr. Trump.

Now, White House officials tell us they were caught off-guard by Romney's decision. And the president, he stayed away from the cameras for most of the day, at one point canceling a photo opportunity in the Oval Office just as Romney was making his announcement.

[18:05:03]

And it was one history will remember.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): A lone voice of dissent in the Trump Republican Party.

CLERK: Mr. Romney.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Guilty.

CLERK: Mr. Romney, guilty.

ACOSTA: Utah Senator Mitt Romney sent shockwaves through the GOP, voting to find the president guilty of abusing the power of his office in the Ukraine scandal.

ROMNEY: The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian

invaders. The president's purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.

ACOSTA: Romney defended his decision as one of conscience and faith.

ROMNEY: My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.

I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong.

ACOSTA: The senator, who was his party's nominee for the presidency eight years ago, conceded his vote won't sit well with fellow Republicans.

ROMNEY: I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.

ACOSTA: The reaction inside the GOP was swift and severe, with the president's son Don Jr. tweeting: "Mitt Romney is forever better that he will never be POTUS. He's now officially a member of the resistance and should be expelled from the GOP."

And Romney's own nice, the chair of the RNC, tweeting: "This is not the first time I have disagreed with Mitt, and I imagine it will not be the last."

For years, there's been bad blood between the two men, with Mr. Trump accusing Romney of choking in 2012.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The last election should have been won, except Romney choked like a dog. He choked.

(BOOING)

TRUMP: He went, I can't breathe. I can't breathe, he said.

ACOSTA: The atmosphere in Washington has only grown more toxic during the impeachment saga. At the State of the Union, the president snubbed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who then ripped up Mr. Trump's speech after he was finished.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Because it was a manifesto of mistruths.

ACOSTA: A move that infuriated the White House.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't see her do it. I found out just a few moments later, and I think it was a new low. I wasn't sure if she was ripping up the speech or ripping up the Constitution.

ACOSTA: Romney's decision stands in stark contrast with Maine's Susan Collins and other Republicans, who conceded Mr. Trump behaved inappropriately, but not enough to be impeached.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): He was impeached. And there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.

ACOSTA: Mr. Trump has been fuming over his Senate trial, barring CNN from a lunch with network news anchors, where he warned former National Security Adviser John Bolton could face criminal penalty if he publishes his book and mocked Bolton's title of ambassador.

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In fact, the president didn't eat his lunch because they asked so many questions, and he answered every single one.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Now, Romney said he knew his vote would not result in a conviction of Mr. Trump.

But the senator's decision deprived the president and Republicans of a key talking point, that Mr. Trump's impeachment was a partisan exercise. That's not the case anymore.

White House officials thought at least one Democrat would cross over and vote to acquit Mr. Trump and were telling reporters as much throughout the day. But, in the end, that didn't happen.

Still, the president was acquitted. He is still president, but it was Romney who demonstrated there's still room for mavericks here in Washington -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jim, thank you, Jim Acosta at the White House.

Joining us now, a Democratic senator who just voted to convict the president, Chris Coons of Delaware.

Senator, thanks so much for coming in.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: He's been acquitted. He's going to stay on as president. He's not guilty. You voted guilty.

What does this mean for the Trump presidency? What does it mean for the country?

COONS: Wolf, I think it's a somber day for our country.

I am encouraged that President Romney chose this moment to have a...

BLITZER: That's Senator Romney.

COONS: Excuse me.

(LAUGHTER)

COONS: That Senator Romney, former Governor Romney, former presidential nominee Romney --

BLITZER: Yes.

COONS: -- chose today for a profile in courage, to show that he took seriously the oath to do impartial justice that all of us took.

Each of us ultimately has to vote our conscience. But I'm struck that it was a bipartisan vote to convict the president in the Senate.

BLITZER: Were you surprised by Senator Romney's decision to vote in favor of convicting the president?

COONS: I was. It certainly means he's going to face an enormous amount of abuse, both politically and personally.

But I'm encouraged that he stood up for what I think the evidence proved, which was that President Trump abused the power of his office to try and seek foreign assistance in his upcoming election.

Your first question, Wolf, was, what's this mean for the country? I'm really concerned about what it means, not just for this election, but for elections going forward.

[18:10:00]

Our founders were very concerned about foreign interference in our politics. And the new standard set by this acquittal suggests that the current and future presidents might feel free to invite foreign interference in our elections.

BLITZER: Well, you don't think President Trump learned a lesson from all of this?

(LAUGHTER)

COONS: No, I don't.

BLITZER: That he -- maybe he should move on? He has been impeached, only the --

COONS: He has.

BLITZER: -- third U.S. president in American history to have been impeached.

COONS: A number of my Republican colleagues -- you just played a clip from Senator Collins and Senator Alexander and others -- have said that what he did was wrong, and that he's learned his lesson.

I only hope that's true, but I see no evidence of it. And I think that Republicans and Democrats should now work together to pass legislation to strengthen protections for our upcoming election, because we know our adversaries are trying to interfere in our upcoming election.

BLITZER: The Senate voted against subpoenaing new witnesses in the Senate trial. COONS: That's right.

BLITZER: Do you think the House of Representatives now, after the Senate trial, should go ahead and subpoena, for example, John Bolton, the president's former national security adviser, to continue their investigation?

COONS: Well, if, as some of my colleagues have said, they want to leave this up to the electorate, they want to let the public decide about the future of President Trump, then the electorate, the American citizenry needs to know what happened.

If they can't get access to John Bolton's book, if they can't get access to a lot of information that was blocked from Congress, then they will have a hard time making that decision in the election in the fall.

So I do think there's legitimacy to trying to get to the bottom of what actually happened.

BLITZER: Was this whole impeachment process, knowing you were not going to get 67 senators to vote to convict and remove him from office, knowing what you know right now -- his job approval number is the highest it's been since he took office three years ago, 49 percent of the American public, according to the new Gallup poll, approve of the job he's doing, 50 percent disapprove, 94 percent of Republicans, according to the poll, approve of the job he's doing.

The numbers have gone up as the impeachment process has continued.

COONS: That's right.

BLITZER: Was it worth it, from your perspective?

COONS: Well, it's a challenge.

If you look at it just from a political perspective, a narrow, does this embolden and strengthen the president and his base, it wasn't. But I think Speaker Pelosi and the House managers looked at the precedent that was being set, looked at the actions that President Trump took on that July 25 call with President Zelensky and said, we can't let this go.

He's committed an offense that the Constitution will not tolerate.

BLITZER: Let's shift to politics for a moment, while I have you.

You have endorsed your fellow Delaware resident Joe Biden for president of the United States. Look at the numbers now. And I think we can put them up on the screen, 86 percent of the precincts reporting in Iowa right now.

Pete Buttigieg number one, 26.7 percent, Bernie Sanders number two -- this is state delegates -- with 25.4 percent, Elizabeth Warren 18.3 percent, Joe Biden in fourth place, 15.9 percent, Amy Klobuchar, your fellow senator, 12.1 percent. This is with 86 percent. For a former vice president -- he was vice

president for eight years under President Obama. It looks like he is going to come in fourth. That's not good.

COONS: Well, I look forward to seeing how Joe does in New Hampshire and in Nevada and South Carolina.

These first four contests are important early indicators. I will note that Senator Sanders got roughly half the result in Iowa that he got four years ago. And he has had four years to prepare and organize.

I think that Joe will do better in more representative, more diverse states like Nevada and South Carolina.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: How come he didn't do well in Iowa?

COONS: And I will remind you, we still don't have full results.

So I, frankly, think Iowa is a contest that has shown that they had four years to organize these caucuses. They weren't tightly and well- run.

BLITZER: Do you believe the results are fair, the results we're seeing from the Iowa Democratic Party? Can we trust those results?

COONS: I don't have any reason to question the legitimacy of that vote.

BLITZER: Because some Biden campaign people are raising questions.

COONS: I think they're raising questions about why it took so long to report these results, but they're not suggesting there was foreign interference or hacking or anything like that.

BLITZER: No.

COONS: This is a cautionary note for all of us. If we get to the November elections, the presidential elections, and we have a comparable meltdown in the ability of a state to deliver the results in a timely fashion, and that determines who's the next president, we need to do everything we can to protect the election this November.

BLITZER: You will be interested that Vice President Biden will be in one of the CNN town halls later tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

COONS: Yes.

BLITZER: He will be there with Anderson Cooper.

COONS: I think he will do well.

BLITZER: Eight Democratic presidential candidates for tonight, for tomorrow night will be at these town halls. And we will be watching.

COONS: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Senator Coons, thanks so much. He's fortunate to have you as a supporter. Thanks so much for joining us.

Just ahead, we will hear all of Mitt Romney's emotional speech explaining his vote to convict President Trump and follow his conscience.

Also, more votes are in from Iowa, after the caucus-counting debacle.

Is Pete Buttigieg closer to officially declaring victory? We're going to crunch the numbers, new numbers coming in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:19:15]

BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the verdict in President Trump's impeachment trial, the 44th president getting the not guilty ruling he was counting on, as most Republicans closed ranks to keep him in office.

But the White House was caught off-guard by Senator Mitt Romney, who broke with the GOP and voted to convict Mr. Trump of abuse of power.

We're joined by our correspondents and analysts as we listen to Senator Romney's very emotional speech on the Senate floor explaining his vote.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The senator from Utah.

ROMNEY: Thank you, Mr. President.

The Constitution is at the foundation of our republic's success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it. The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of our Congress these many days.

[18:20:05]

We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it. We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other's good faith.

The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious.

As a senator-juror, I swore an oath before God to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am.

I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong. The House managers presented evidence supporting their case, and the

White House counsel disputed that case.

In addition, the president's team presented three defenses, first, that there could be no impeachment without a statutory crime, second, that the Bidens' conduct justified the president's actions, and, third, that the judgment of the president's actions should be left to the voters.

Let me first address those three defenses.

The historic meaning of the words high crimes and misdemeanors, the writings of the founders and my own reasoned judgment convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that, while they're not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office.

To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove such a president defies reason.

The president's counsel also notes that Vice President Biden appeared to have a conflict of interest when he undertook an effort to remove the Ukrainian prosecutor general. If he knew of the exorbitant compensation his son was receiving from a company actually under investigation, the vice president should have recused himself.

While ignoring a conflict of interest is not a crime, it is surely very wrong.

With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father's name is unsavory, but also not a crime.

Given that, in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the president's counsel that a crime had been committed, the president's insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain, other than as a political pursuit.

There's no question in my mind that, were their names not Biden, the president would never have done what he did.

The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters. While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution's requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president.

Hamilton explained that the founders' decision to invest senators with this obligation, rather than leave it to the voters, was intended to minimize, to the extent possible, the partisan sentiments of the public at large.

So the verdict is ours to render, under our Constitution. The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfill our duty. The grave question the Constitution tasked senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did.

The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.

The president's purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.

What he did was not perfect. No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values.

Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one's oath of office that I can imagine.

In the last several weeks, I've received numerous calls and texts. Many demanded, in their words, that I stand with the team. I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind.

[18:25:07]

You see, I support a great deal of what the president has done. I voted with him 80 percent of the time.

But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and political biases aside.

Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history's rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.

I'm aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision. And, in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced. I'm sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters.

Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences, other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?

I sought to hear -- sought to hear testimony from John Bolton, not only because I believed he could add context to the charges, but also because I hoped that what he might say could raise reasonable doubt, and thus remove from me the awful obligation to vote for impeachment.

Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by providence.

I'm convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character. As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We've come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience. I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the president from

office. The results of this Senate court will, in fact, be appealed to a higher court, the judgment of the American people.

Voters will make the final decision, just as the president's lawyers have implored. My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate.

But, irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty, to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.

I will only be one name among many, no more, no less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong, grievously wrong.

We are all footnotes, at best, in the annals of history, but, in the most powerful nation on Earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that distinction is enough for any citizen.

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Very strong words, indeed, from Senator Mitt Romney.

Everybody, stand by.

We just heard from the senator. He delivered a very powerful statement, saying the 45th president of the United States should be removed from office.

There's a lot to discuss right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:30:00]

BLITZER: All right. We're back with our correspondents and our analysts. We're discussing Mitt Romney's speech. We just heard it, Jeffrey Toobin, once again, a very powerful rebuke of the president of the United States, saying the president -- he voted in favor of removing President Trump from office.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Listening to it a second time, I was struck by something I wasn't struck by the first time. Obviously, the emotional impact is what sticks with you. But what I picked up the second time was the complete repudiation of everything the president's lawyers said in the House and in the Senate.

Remember the defense, well, this was really about burden sharing with other countries, this was really about fighting corruption. Romney had none of that. This was exactly what the House managers said it was. It was an attempt to get dirt on Joe Biden, period.

And that was, I thought, a -- he didn't have to say that in order to reach the verdict that he did, but the degree to which he repudiated the president's position was even more total than I expected.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this gives an indication as to how people -- how people entered this and their perception of the president, guided them on how they viewed the evidence. If you were a Democrat who sees Donald Trump as an someone who is unfit for office and has a multitude of problems with him in his character and everything else, then you believe the worst possible scenario, there was one Republican how sort of shares that point of view and that's Mitt Romney.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, but Romney is --

SANTORUM: Mitt Romney has been -- yes, well, voting on policy is not voting with the president. I mean, he is voting on what he believes is the right policy and the same time with the president. But Mitt Romney does not believe Donald Trump is a man of high character and high morals. And so he views things through that lens.

[18:35:00]

And if you view through that lens that this is a man who is capable of doing all these things and not considering all this, then you end up with that result. So I think it actually makes sense through that prism.

BLITZER: Let me let Laura weigh in. Go ahead.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. One of the things that he came later to talk about was the idea that he was hoping by voting in favor of witnesses for some information that would exonerate the president, some form or something to hang his hat on for reasonable doubt, anything exculpatory. So it kind of belies logic that he was looking to have a foregone conclusion. I want to not like him, I want to have proof of that.

What really it struck me as well overall the creation (ph) of it was the idea that the big Dershowitz defense, I call it, the notion of, listen, abuse of power is too vague a concept to be pack (ph) of deterrent for any future president. He have rejected that wholesale. And it didn't have to be a codified list of things you had to wrong and going to do that. And so, in that, you really see that he didn't even look at that even for a second.

BORGER: I think there was, and I guess I disagree with you, I think there was a real personal struggle here for him. He said, does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences, meaning he will be denounced, ostracized, whatever you want to say about his party, if I really didn't come to this inescapable conviction of my oath before God demanded of me?

In other words, I've thought about this, I know where this is going to lead me in my party. I'm going to be an outlier, I'm going to be ostracized, I'm going to be attacked, my family is going to be attacked, but I still think it's important enough for me to do this.

SANTORUM: I do think what you said and what I said are inconsistent. I think you're absolutely right. I think he went through all those. But, again, it's the mindset you come into this as to who Donald Trump is and how willing you are to accept that evidence.

BORGER: Well, how does that have to deal with the evidence?

TOOBIN: Could it also be the evidence? No, I mean, look at what they saw. I mean, look at how much evidence there was that this was a crooked scheme from day one.

SANTORUM: But those who voted for impeachment give Donald Trump no benefit of the doubt, they don't give any of the question as to what he was doing and why he was doing it, you dismiss all of it. Why, because it's who you believe he is.

BLITZER: He said, Mitt Romney, this was the hardest decision in his life.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, he said that. And he really, I think, wrapped it in his faith. He had this line here, my faith is at the heart of who I am, described himself as profoundly religious. And that is the man we all know Mitt Romney to be. He's Mormon, his whole family is Mormon. Obviously, his whole family is Mormon. So he wrapped it in that language.

I think you will have Republicans, and Tim Scott was saying this earlier in the broadcast, that this is based on animus, that Romney has always felt for this president. But here, I think he lays out a real reason for why he did this. He thought he was guided not only by his faith but also the evidence.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And we know from the president's campaign statements, from his press secretary's statements, from some of his friends in social media, the president is mad about this. President will be more mad about it tomorrow. Why, because the president closely follows television and Mitt Romney is getting a ton of attention right now because he is the outlier. He's the one senator who broke from his party. So the president's fury is only going to grow here.

But there's another way to look at this and against to whatever you guys have been saying. One Republican, right? The Democrats stuck together, the Republicans stuck together except for one. Welcome to the partisan divide we live in where you show people the same set of facts and one sees perfect and one sees awful.

BLITZER: It's bitterly divided right now.

Everybody stick around, much more on this right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

BLITZER: Last 24 hours truly have been extraordinary and divisive with the president's Senate acquittal coming on the heels of the rather polarizing State of the Union Address last night. John, I was watching the State of the Union Address, you were watching it last night. I want to play some clips. Watch last night compared to 21 years ago when at the same time he was facing an impeachment trial, President Bill Clinton went to deliver his State of the Union Address.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- at the speaker, or to the left as the speaker looks at him. So I don't think there's any formula tonight it though.

FMR. REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL): I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Members of Congress, the president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: At the time, remember, we covered the White House in those days together, at the time we thought America was torn asunder, it was so partisan, it was so polarized. Seems like a quaint village now, doesn't it?

Look, president last night, President Trump, dissed the speaker or maybe he didn't see her hand, but the tradition is to shake her hand. She then dissed him. The two of them disrespected each other, don't get along with each other, that's not good for the town. But welcome to American politics. That's where we are right now.

President Clinton was no great friend of Dennis Hastert, but Dennis Hastert was --

BLITZER: He was the speaker.

KING: Yes, he was new in the job then though.

[18:45:01]

And so that was -- Hastert was actually welcomed to the Clinton White House at that moment because Gingrich had gone, Bob Livingston was supposed to succeed him. He was gone.

In the wake of the Clinton impeachment trial, two Republicans, top Republicans, lost their jobs because of their own personal conduct.

But the Clinton knew -- Clinton as much as -- you know, he was contrite at that moment. The facts were not in dispute. His own party wanted him to be contrite. He wanted to move on. But he also was not seeking reelection.

This president, who lost the popular vote, who has a unique, viable but unique path to reelection, as mad as you know what at Nancy Pelosi for the whole impeachment thing, we thought we were back in the late '90s, this town could not get more polarized, we are incredibly wrong, because we are way, way more polarized now. BLITZER: It underscored what we saw last night in that state of the

union address, the beginning and the end, how polarized the country is right now, not just the political leadership.

HENDERSON: Yes, listen, I think all of us were watching to see what that interaction would be between Nancy Pelosi, between Donald Trump. Donald Trump calls it an impeachment hoax and Nancy Pelosi has said all along he will be impeached forever and ever and ever.

And so there you had this all on display. And listen, Nancy Pelosi hasn't made any secret of her feelings about Donald Trump. There's the famous time when she's in the Oval Office and she's standing up and she's the only one standing up literally standing up to the president and sort of criticizing --

KING: The only woman.

HENDERSON: The only woman as well.

So there you had her dressed in white. A lot of the women there were dressed in white, the color of suffragettes. And yes, I mean, it was a surprise to see her so theatrically, with finesse, tearing up that impeachment speech. I think it's going to be a meme worthy in --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forever.

HENDERSON: -- forever and ever and ever. And so, yes, she is making no secret about how she feels about with this president.

BORGER: Politicians are supposed to be politic. We're used to -- we're used to them really hiding their feelings. We're used to spinning us. She wasn't doing any of that last night.

I was kind of obsessed with watching her facial expressions during the whole State of the Union and then when she ripped up the speech and put it on the dung heap of history she would probably say, you know, it was -- it was stunning. It was absolutely stunning. She could not hide her feelings, nor did she want to.

KING: You were in the House and the Senate. You never saw it that bad, right?

SANTORUM: No, no. I mean, it's divided. But look, it's reflective of how divided the country is.

And I always say, you know, citizens elect these people and they've elected people from districts that are very, very divided.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to have more on this coming up.

Also coming up, the 2020 Democrats are setting their sights on New Hampshire even as more results are trickling in from Iowa after the vote reporting meltdown there. We're going to update you with the latest numbers and the state of the race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:52:38]

BLITZER: Tonight, Iowa Democrats are updating the vote count from the first presidential contest of 2020, two days after their reporting system went haywire.

Let's go to our political correspondent Abby Philip. She's in New Hampshire for us.

So, what's the latest, Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we have a little bit more from the state party about what the results were from the Iowa caucuses, with 86 percent of the vote reporting and the precincts reporting, Pete Buttigieg is still slightly in the lead. He's got about 26.7 percent of that delegate share, followed by Bernie Sanders, who is at 25.4. Elizabeth Warren with 18.3. And Joe Biden with 15.9.

So, these numbers really haven't changed a whole lot, even with a little bit more of the precincts reporting, but we're getting a little bit of a fuller picture of what this final race might look like.

Now, it's key to remember here, we're talking about delegates, which is the metric by which we and the Democratic Party will determine who is the winner of this contest but there's also the popular vote. And that is something that's of keen interest to the Sanders campaign. They have been saying that they believe that at the end of the day, he will continue to have a lead in the popular vote over Pete Buttigieg, even though as you can see there, Pete Buttigieg has a slight lead in the delegate count.

So, you're seeing some of this jockeying happening as the candidates try to look at these results and take away the best-case scenario for them. But another thing you are seeing already here on the ground in New Hampshire is that Joe Biden, who placed disappointingly in fourth place, compared to what his campaign hoped he would do, is pretty explicit about how he didn't think he performed well and is now changing his strategy.

He has started to be more explicit about his attacks against both Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. He debuted two new attacks against them on the stump here in New Hampshire. So, we're already seeing these results from Iowa having an affect on the ground.

And as these town halls we're expecting to have both tonight and tomorrow night roll out, I think we'll see more of that from all of these candidates, Wolf.

BLITZER: Sure will. Abby Phillip, on the scene for us, thank you.

And stay with CNN for the last Democratic presidential town halls before the New Hampshire primary. The live two-night event begins later this evening, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, with Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer.

[18:55:05]

More news after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Finally tonight, partisan division at the State of the Union is not necessarily all that uncommon. But this year's address came across as exceptionally divisive. It was a speech with not that many instances of enthusiastic bipartisan applause. It started with President Trump's refusal to shake Speaker Nancy Pelosi's hand and wound up with her decision to dramatically rip up his speech.

I'm again reminded that the U.S. intelligence community issued a warning that Russian interference in the 2016 election was in part an attempt to sow political dissent in the United States, and to push Americans further away from one another.

Perhaps President Putin is thinking to himself, mission accomplished.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.