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Interview with Representative Val Demings (D-FL) on Impeachment Acquittal; Americans Under Quarantine After Evacuating from China; Trump Administration Suspends Global Entry Program for New Yorkers; Why Mitt Romney's Impeachment Speech Matters. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired February 6, 2020 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:30:55]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In just hours, President Trump will speak for the first time since he was acquitted by the Senate on both impeachment charges. Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff revealed something that we did not know. That former National Security adviser John Bolton was asked to submit a sworn statement. But --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We did approach John Bolton's counsel. Asked if Mr. Bolton would be willing to submit an affidavit under oath describing what he observed in terms of the president's Ukraine misconduct, and he refused.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: It was during the impeachment trial they made that request and Adam Schiff says they refused.

Joining me now is one of the House impeachment managers, Democratic Congresswoman Val Demings.

Congresswoman, thank you very much for being with us on this morning. It is an historic morning and these are the historic headlines that Americans are waking up to. This is the "Washington Post" this morning in, you know, 96,000-point font. "Trump Acquitted." So I'm just wondering what your feelings are having gone what you went through reading that this morning.

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Well, good morning, John. It's good to be back with you. And let me just say this. And you can take the words of several senators that the House managers basically proved our case through overwhelming evidence and documentation that the president abused the power of his office and then obstruct Congress' ability to basically investigate that abuse.

And so, you know, my prayer, if you will, is always that we would be strong. That we would present the evidence in a clear and concise way. That not only the senators would understand, but the American people would understand. We never could control the rest of the story. I think that Mitch

McConnell made it quite clear in the beginning of this story that he was going to coordinate. There would be no daylight between him and the White House. And our greatest fears or one of our greatest fears about this case is realized the day that the Senate voted to not hear from witnesses or vote it -- do not subpoena documentation. So we did our job and we're going to move forward.

BERMAN: Those Republican senators who all voted to acquit the president, what they basically say is that yes, the president made the phone call. Yes, there may have been a quid pro quo, but they did not believe it was an abuse of power. They for whatever reason found there to be some distinction there.

I want to ask you about some official business, though. What's next for John Bolton? What happens there?

DEMINGS: Let me go back to what you just said. Well, if they believe that the behavior did not rise to the level of impeachment, then why did they all start off with well, he did nothing wrong. There was no -- nothing to see here. And then it was, yes, it was the perfect call and certainly there was no quid pro quo. And then it was, well, there was a problem with the House's process. And then it was oh, well, he did it, but it doesn't rise to the level of impeachment. So I just want to make sure the American people clearly understand what happened there.

With regard to National Security adviser John Bolton, I mean, you heard the statement from our chairman that we asked them or asked his attorney to submit an affidavit. They refused to do that. And so we'll see. I mean, whether we the House calls him in or not is really a decision that will be made by leadership.

But I personally do believe that that is still an open chapter out there. And if for nothing but the historical record, I certainly am very interested in hearing what Mr. Bolton had to say. But we'll see moving forward, you know, we got catch our breath.

BERMAN: Well, for the historical record, let me ask more about that. For the historical record, because people like Lamar Alexander say, you proved that the call happened. You proved that there was a quid pro quo. Having John Bolton affirm that won't change our mind. So what will it achieve?

DEMINGS: Well, let me just say this. If we go back to every normal trial and every normal courtroom, whether it's not a cover-up or a coordination with the defendant and the judges, you would want to hear the complete story.

[07:35:05]

If you had six people who were standing on the street corner and witness a bank robber, you would never say -- no reasonable person who would say, well, let's just only interview three of them or four of them. We would have dragged all six of them in to hear what they have to say. So I just think I'm certainly very interested. And I know the American

people are interested. I think the only people who aren't interested in hearing what John Bolton has to say is the president and his enablers.

BERMAN: So it's for the historical record, though, because the trial --

DEMINGS: Well, I mean, you know, at this point, you know, the verdict was in. They voted to acquit the president. But certainly he was not exonerated. And now we all should understand why Bob Mueller said if he could exonerate the president, he would. Obviously he said he could not exonerate it. I think we all have a clearer picture into that. But at this point, I just think the record is not complete without hearing from the president's former National Security adviser.

This was a national security issue. And I just think that the American people deserve to hear the complete truth. The senators obviously chose to read it in his book which I think is very shameful and a dereliction of duty.

BERMAN: And to be clear, John Bolton at any point could have come forward with a press conference and made whatever statement it is he would have liked to have made.

I do want to ask you about the moment yesterday when Mitt Romney announced that he was going to convict the president. What did that feel like for you? How surprised were you?

DEMINGS: Well, you know, let me just say this. I -- being a woman of faith and in every interview if I was asked the question, my statement was I'm not giving up on the Senate until the verdict's in. And I just maintain that. I had to believe that there would be at least some senators on the other side of the aisle that would remember their oath that would be true to their oath and their moral compass, and do the right thing.

And so let me just make this quite clear. Senator Romney was not standing with Democrats. Senator Romney was standing with what he knew to be right versus wrong. And so it just gave me hope as a former law enforcement officer, what I have witnesses in the last two weeks has been shocking to me that when the evidence is overwhelming, the testimony from career foreign service officers is overwhelming and senators just choose to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to it.

That's quite unusual to me. And to hear Mitt Romney not stand with us and not stand against the president but to stand up for what he has done all of his life. And that's his faith and his oath. And his belief in doing what's right.

BERMAN: Congresswoman Val Demings, you are part of a very, very select group in American history. Having been a manager in an impeachment trial. I imagine it will be a relief for you to move forward with your day job now. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

DEMINGS: Thank you, John. BERMAN: Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John. A powerful storm system is pummeling the Eastern U.S. today. Millions are under flash flood watches and winter storm alerts.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has our forecast.

Yes, I drove through this at 4:30 and it was harrowing, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. It is raining very heavily in many spots this morning. Your commute will be difficult if you haven't left yet. 13 tornado reports yesterday. Some severe hail. Even some damage and some injuries reported here with this.

Right now we want to tell you that this weather is brought to you by Celebrity Cruises. Go to celebrity.com to book your award-winning vacation today to get away from all this.

Here it is. Big weather here today. Tornado watch in effect right now for most of Georgia, all of Alabama, northern Florida. There will be severe weather today. There will be more tornadoes today. There will be snow and ice on the north side of this system on up in somewhere between I'd say Canton up toward Buffalo and even upstate from there. And we'll see that as it moves on by for tomorrow. And then finally away.

Now I know we talked about all of this severe weather. There's more severe weather and that's flash flooding. Already warnings going out at this hour and more rain to come. Watch out if you're driving anywhere east of, let's say, Arkansas, Mississippi, ^Tennessee. That's where the heaviest rain will be -- John.

BERMAN: That's us. All right, Chad, thank you very much.

Hundreds of Americans who fled the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China are now quarantined here in the United States. We'll speak to a man whose family is among them, next.

[07:40:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: The State Department says it will not send any more charter flights to the Wuhan region of China after this week. More than 300 Americans have already been evacuated from the outbreak zone of the deadly coronavirus and are back in the U.S. under quarantine.

Our next guest's wife and two young children are some of the lucky ones who got out. They are now at Travis Air Force Base in California under quarantine. And joining us now is Samuel Roth.

Samuel, thanks so much for being here. When is the last time you saw your wife and daughters?

[07:45:08]

SAMUEL ROTH, WIFE AND DAUGHTERS QUARANTINED AFTER RETURN FROM WUHAN: In person was when I dropped them off at the airport in January. But I talked to them on video chat last night.

CAMEROTA: And so they are now back home in quarantine. What are they doing? What are their lives like for these two weeks?

ROTH: Well, it's pretty simple. They've been given a hotel room that's stocked with supplies to take care of a baby. They're even -- they have a TV. They're actually watching this. So hey, Daisy. Hey, Pebbles. Hey, baby. They finished the laundry. They're recovering from jetlag and they're kind of just living a normal life for two weeks while they wait for the quarantine to finish.

CAMEROTA: I'm sure they're happy to see you this morning. But I'm sure they're confused. I mean, one of your daughters is 5, one is 10 months old. I'm sure they don't exactly understand why they haven't seen dad for so long. And what's it been like for you to just be having to monitor this from thousands of miles away?

ROTH: Well, certainly the 10-month-old doesn't know what's going on. The 5-year-old Abigail, she seems to understand what is going on. But she is more interested in learning about cat's cradle. For me, you know, it's been a little bit scary to read everything through the lens of the media. But when I talk to my family and I understand that they're doing everything they can to stay healthy, to keep their hands clean, to avoid going outside, I feel confident that they'll be OK.

CAMEROTA: What has been your biggest worry during these weeks that you've been apart?

ROTH: I think my biggest worry came when the lockdown was instituted in Wuhan and the uncertainty around if they needed something like medical care or if they needed to go somewhere and they couldn't get there. There's just a lot of uncertainty about what they would or would not be able to do once the city was put under lockdown. That really concerned me because it could go on for weeks, months. It's anybody's guess at this point.

CAMEROTA: No, I can only imagine. I mean, the uncertainty of that time when they were on lockdown in Wuhan and then you swung into action or tried to. You tried to get them home. And just tell us a little bit about what those efforts are like.

ROTH: Yes. I mean, I posted on Facebook and the media picked up on it. I contacted local lawmakers and lobbied them for their support. And I communicated with the State Department in the embassy and learned as much as I could about how to get my family involved in the process of the evacuation. And I had a lot of help from people, from colleagues, from family. And I'm really grateful for everyone that's assisted me to help bring my family home.

CAMEROTA: We only have 10 seconds left. What do you want to say again to your daughters and to your wife?

ROTH: Just hang in there. I'll see you soon. And we'll talk in a couple of minutes when I'm off national television.

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: Thank goodness for technology and Facetime during crises like this.

Samuel Roth, we really appreciate you being here with your family's story. Thank you.

ROTH: Thank you.

BERMAN: My family doesn't usually want to wait. They text me regularly when I'm on the TV. And they're like, sorry, sorry.

CAMEROTA: That's funny because my family's not watching. His family is thousands of miles away.

BERMAN: You got to feel for them, though.

CAMEROTA: I can't give mine any message.

BERMAN: So the Trump administration is suspending the Global Entry Program for New Yorkers. It allows trusted travelers to speed through airport lines.

CNN's Brynn Gingras live at New York's Kennedy Airport. What, the people who travel internationally, they love this. They're not going to like this going away, Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is a big deal, John. And of course we know this isn't the first time that the president has taken some action against his home state.

And this is clearly the next move. Now, what we really have learned about this coming really to most people from an interview done by the acting Department of Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf when he appeared on FOX News last night talking about a letter that he sent to the New York DMV discussing the parameters of this new rule.

Essentially saying those who are applying to global entry or trying to renew their global entry, that the applications are going to be suspended. Now to be clear, it does seem that those who currently don't have global entry are going to be affected.

And those who have TSA pre-check are also not going to be affected. By why the reasoning for this? Well, according to that letter, essentially Wolf says that the new law that went in effect here in New York, a Greenlight Law which really allows undocumented immigrants to get licenses, driver's licenses here in New York but doesn't share their information with immigration officials, it basically says, according to him, that a government official can't get information to verify those applications.

[07:50:06]

And he also said in that letter that, quote, "It will impede ICE objective of protecting the people of New York from any threats to national security and public safety."

Now we know the governor has this letter. He's looking it over and, according to a senior adviser they are looking to see what kind of legal action they can take -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, thank you very much, Brynn.

So Mitt Romney stood alone against President Trump yesterday. Is Senator Romney ready for whatever happens next? A must-see reality check coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: Yesterday we saw something that has not happened in a long time. A Republican broke with Donald trump. What happens next? John Avlon has our "Reality Check."

Hi, John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hey, guys. It's sometimes said that one man with courage makes a majority.

[04:55:02]

That wasn't mathematically true in the Senate yesterday where the vote to remove President Trump fell largely along partisan lines. I say largely, though, because for the first time in this impeachment process, a Republican stood up to President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival. It was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep one's self in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one's oath of office that I can imagine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Senator Mitt Romney's speech was a profile in courage, taking an unpopular position in his party because he believed it was the right thing to do. And in a matter of minutes, the president's son posted a meme that questioned his manhood and called for him to be an expelled from the GOP.

The president tweeted out an attack ad against Romney. FOX News host Lou Dobbs compared him to Judas, Brutus and Benedict Arnold. While the RNC accused him of turning his back on his own state accompanied by a disavowed by his own niece, GOP chairman Ronna McDaniel reportedly dropped her maiden name Romney at President Trump's request.

And it will get worse. Because enforcing group think requires demonizing dissent and hunting for heretics. Tribal loyalty is expected to trump everything else, even a senator's conscience and common sense. But it helps explain why we've seen so many senators offer these tortured explanations for their support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER: I think he shouldn't have done it. I think it was wrong. I think what he did is a long way from treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeanors.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Marco rubio releasing a mind-bending statement, quote, "Just because actions mean a standard of impeachment does not mean it's in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office."

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I believe that the president has learned from this case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Well, contrary to that, the White House continues to insist the president was completely vindicated and exonerated. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown pulled the carton back on how he says his GOP friends really feel. "Well, in private, many of my colleagues agree that the president is reckless and unfit. But they are afraid that Mr. Trump might give them a nickname like low-energy Jeb or Lyin' Ted or worst of all, that he might come to their state to campaign against them in a Republican primary."

Fear is driving their decisions. Moral courage is increasingly MIA. But that is a choice. Against this Republican reality distortion filled, why is Mitt Romney's speech worth celebrating? Because it represents a crack in fear-fueled group think. Because Mitt Romney's faith caused him to take his oath to do impartial justice seriously. Because as a former GOP nominee, Mitt Romney's name resonates on main street while taking away the talking point this was a purely partisan impeachment.

Because this is a time when we need to see more profiles in courage, to inspire more acts of independence and integrity so that we start to straighten our civic backbones again, and stop letting fear disfigure our democracy.

And that's your "Reality Check."

CAMEROTA: John, thank you very much for all of that reality.

BERMAN: Look, and it is interesting that leading into the final vote, the big question was, would any Democrats vote to acquit? And that didn't happen. None of the red state Democrats, Doug Jones, Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona, no, they voted to convict.

CAMEROTA: No, there was a bipartisan vote. It was to convict.

Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster is next. For our U.S. viewers, the race in Iowa is tighter this morning than ever.

NEW DAY continues right now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They are still counting votes in Iowa.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR-AT-LARGE: The damage done to Joe Biden is being undersold here.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We took a gut punch in Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: As these results roll in, if Pete Buttigieg is number one, that could mean a lot for his fundraising.

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: Donald John Trump be and he is hereby acquitted of the charges in said articles.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): He's acquitted without facts. It means that his acquittal is virtually valueless.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We voted. It's in the rear-view mirror.

ROMNEY: I was among the senators who determined that what the president did was wrong.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, good morning. And welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Thursday, February 6th. It is 8:00 in the East. And overnight a new batch of results from Iowa and a new batch of controversy.

With 97 percent of the precincts now reporting, 97 percent, former mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders they are running neck and neck. Just 0.1 percent separates them. So the slim lead that Pete Buttigieg once held is now more or less gone.

If you're keeping score at home, this is how it went. First there were no results from Iowa, probably robbing Pete Buttigieg of a big election night momentum swing. Then there were the partial results. Buttigieg had a day or so to brag about leading and now with the nearly complete results, Sanders has serious reason to gripe.

Iowa claims they will have all the numbers this morning. We are waiting.