Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. House to Vote on Impeachment; Trump Denounces Violence, Takes No Responsibility for Riot; YouTube Suspending Trump's Channel for at Least a Week; Deutsche Bank Cutting Business Ties with Trump; Navalny Announces Return to Russia After Poisoning; Europe Struggle as Vaccine Approval Process Continues. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 13, 2021 - 04:30   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: More now on our breaking news. In just a few hours from now, the House of Representatives is set to begin debating whether to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time. Democrats are leading the effort, accusing him of inciting last week's insurrection at the Capitol.

A growing number of senior Republicans are joining in including the third-ranking House Republican Liz Cheney. And the top Senate Republican has reportedly signaled that he's pleased with the impeachment effort. According to the "The New York Times," Mitch McConnell believes Mr. Trump committed impeachable offenses and says the move would make it easier to oust him from the party.

But U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has rejected Democrats calls to remove Mr. Trump from power. The House has passed a resolution urging him to do so by invoking the 25th Amendment. But Pence says the move isn't in the interest of the country.

Meanwhile, a source close to the president tell CNN there's no consideration of him resigning and as CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports Mr. Trump is expressing no remorse over last week's events.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Without an ounce of regret, President Trump took no responsibility for inciting a violent mob of his supporters who breached the Capitol, attacked police officers, and threatened to kill the vice president.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It has been analyzed. And people thought that what I said was totally appropriate.

COLLINS: As he left the White House, Trump denounced violence, but insisted he didn't instigate it.

TRUMP: They've analyzed my speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence. And everybody to the "T" thought it was totally appropriate. We fight. We fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. And we're going to the Capitol. We're going to try and give our Republicans -- the weak ones, because the strong ones don't need any of our help -- we're going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.

COLLINS (voice-over): The president portrayed himself as the victim of a new effort by Democrats to impeach him a second time.

TRUMP: It's really a continuation of the greatest witch-hunt in the history of politics. It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous. This impeachment is causing tremendous anger.

COLLINS (voice-over): Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded by saying Trump shouldn't be in office for another day.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What Trump did today, blaming others for what he caused, is a pathological technique used by the worst of dictators.

COLLINS (voice-over): After he landed in Texas, Trump delivered scripted remarks on the attack.

TRUMP: Respect for law enforcement and the great people within law enforcement -- so many are here -- is the foundation of the MAGA agenda.

COLLINS (voice-over): Unlike Democrats wanted, it became less likely that Vice President Pence would galvanize the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from power after he finally spoke to Trump for the first time since Wednesday.

Trump and Pence pledged to serve the remainder of their term, as one member of Trump's cabinet didn't rule out conversations about the 25th Amendment.

ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: The rhetoric last week was unacceptable. I'm not going to get into or discuss the 25th Amendment here. I'm committed -- I have wrestled with this -- I'm committed to see this through in my role as health secretary during the pandemic.

COLLINS: While the president was in Texas, he said he was not worried about 25th Amendment being a threat to him but warned in some kind of veiled threat that it could be a warn to Joe Biden when he takes office. Of course, shortly after the president returned from Texas, we did finally get a definitive statement from the vice president in a letter to the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying he is not be invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from power.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: Michael Gerhardt is a law professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He testified for the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment of Donald Trump back in 2019. And was the only joint witness during the Clinton impeachment hearing. And he joins me now. Thank you so much for being with us.



CHURCH: So, while President Trump displayed no remorse for his role last week in citing the mob that attacked the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is apparently furious and told associates that the president did commit impeachable offenses. A few House Republicans now say they will vote to impeach Trump. What might all this signal? Is it a tipping point?

GERHARDT: It signals that we may have a potential to reach a tipping point. Certainly, there's been a break in the ranks. Republicans last time -- last time the president was impeached, held together completely in the House. And in the Senate, only one Republican broke ranks.

So what we are seeing now is quite different. Of course, the misconduct is different, too. It's even more egregious. And I think once the president has been shut down on Twitter, Republicans are to some extent may feel freer to break ranks. And we've already seen a handful in the House. Repeatedly we may see as many as 20, possibly more. I think actually once there is a breakage, you may begin to see even more go in that direction. And it's possible in the Senate there may be other Republicans that will break ranks, too.

CHURCH: Yes, it'll be interesting to see who does that. And as President Trump refuses to take responsibility for the attack last week, we're seeing plots and threats of armed protests in the leadup to Joe Biden's inauguration. And Trump is digging his heels in. Is the president a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution as the House impeachment resolution states? Is he a clear and present danger right now?

GERHARDT: I think the answer is yes. I think that the president, as you just said, did not take any responsibility for what happened. In fact, if we look at the facts that are the basis for this impeach article, he is a danger to national security. He not only encouraged the mob to be strong and to fight when they marched towards Congress, when they were there, he seemed to enjoy their wreckage, their rampage. Didn't lift a finger to order the National Guard, in fact, he hesitated. He wanted the mayhem to occur. He wanted Congress to be intimidated to overturn the election. That's a president who is attacking not just democracy, but our national security. And the article refers to all of that very eloquently.

CHURCH: Michael Gerhardt many thanks.

Well it's going to be a day like no other in Washington and CNN will bring you every development as it happens. In just a few hours from now, the House will begin debate over impeaching Donald Trump for an unprecedented second time. CNN will have special coverage throughout the day so stay with us for the very latest.

And now to another story we're following this hour, YouTube has suspended President Trump's channel for at least one week, after removing a video the company said incited violence. It is the latest social media platform to suspend Mr. Trump's account in some way, dealing a blow to his online presence. And YouTube says it will revisit the decision after this week is over.

Well, joining us now live from Dubai is CNN's John Defterios. Good to see you, John. So big tech companies continue to apply pressure on the president and now banks also cutting ties. What is the likely impact of all of this?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, I'll tell you, it seems like the floodgates have really opened against Donald Trump. And as you know, Rosemary, social media and the financial sector is basically a life blood to Trump and the Trump organization. As you suggested the move by YouTube coming overnight from California because of those videos incite violence.

This means that five of the major tech companies from the West Coast of the United States have taken action in the last five days alone. And this sparked the ire of the president on his departure from Andrews Air Force Base attacking big tech, for taking such a tough stance after what we saw transpire a week ago on Capitol Hill.


TRUMP: I think that big tech is doing a horrible thing for our country and to our country. And I believe it's going to be a catastrophic mistake for them. They're dividing and divisive and they're showing something that I've been predicting for a long time.


DEFTERIOS (on camera): Well, many say that the president is the one that's responsible for the divisive policies by he and his team. And, of course, Silicon Valley being slow to respond to this challenge, perhaps because the president represents so much traffic, Rosemary. And we're not talking about here. Just the limitation of actions by big tech, the banks, as we talked about here.


Deutsche Bank, the largest lender to the Trump organization, with the exposure of about $2.5 billion says it will not do any new lending. Executives which handled the Trump organization accounts have resigned in the last two weeks. And also a very small bank in New York making a big step, and that is Signature Bank shutting down the personal accounts of the president and the CEO of the bank saying that the president should resign. They're not welcome in New York City anymore is the message -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, loud and clear, isn't it? John Defterios joining us live from Dubai. Many thanks. And we are following breaking news this hour, Russian opposition

leader Alexei Navalny has just announced he is heading back to Russia after recovering from a poisoning that nearly took his life. We'll have more detains in a live report from Moscow. That's next.


CHURCH: Now to the breaking news we're following this hour. Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny says he is heading home. The Kremlin critic says he will return to Russia on Sunday. He was taken to Germany last August, you might recall, after being poisoned with a nerve agent.

Our Fred Pleitgen joins us now live from Moscow with more on this. So, Fred, even after nearly losing his life, Navalny, as a result of this poisoning, he's heading back to Russia. How wise is that move and what is ahead of him?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well it's a very difficult to say how wise it is, but it certainly does bring a lot of risks with it. Because not only, of course, has he faced all of those issues and having that recovery from that Novichok poisoning, which obviously he believed was conducted by the Russian state. In which a CNN investigation also found that apparently, the Russian intelligence service was behind all of that.

But he also faces major legal troubles if and when he returns, as he's now saying.


Back here to Russia, there's new criminal cases opened against him. And there was also one past case where a sentence -- is was a suspended sentence which he received is now in the process of possibly being turned into a regular jail sentence.

So, he did indeed face possible arrests the moment he lands here in Germany. Now despite all of that, Alexei Navalny earlier today on his social media account, he announced that he was coming back to Moscow here, to Russia on the 17th of January which is this Sunday. He says he's flying from Berlin.

I want to read you a little bit of what he said on his social media accounts He said, quote --

There was never a question for me whether to return or not. Just because I didn't leave. I ended up in Germany, having arrived there in an intensive care box -- you'll recall that of course he was unconscious when he arrived here from that Novichok poisoning -- On January 17, Sunday, I will return home on Pobeda airline flight -- which is a budget Russian airline that flies from Berlin to Moscow -- Meet me, he says.

So he's obviously inviting people to come to the airport, or possibly come to wherever he wants to go, to be there. Because he obviously wants as many people as possible to be there, just in case, obviously there are issues with the authorities.

Now as I've mentioned there is a big real risk that he could get arrested when he comes back here. And we've actually asked the Kremlin about that previously, when Alexei Navalny said that he wants to return to Russia in the future when some of those criminal cases took hold. And the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov at the time, he said, of course, any Russian citizen can return to Russia anytime that they want. But he did also say that he believes that the penitentiary service here in Russia, as he put it, is simply doing its job.

And so therefore, that risk of him possibly getting arrested immediately is something that is very real. And of course, Alexei Navalny, Rosemary, he's been saying over the past couple of weeks in some of these new cases were opened and some of the other case where turned -- about one other case was turned into a real jail sentence that he believes all of that is politically motivated. He is saying that he believes that Vladimir Putin is behind his poisoning. He believes Vladimir Putin now wants to find ways to try to prevent Alexei Navalny from coming back here, from coming to Russia. And obviously, he's now showing that despite those risks, he wants to come back here nevertheless -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Just incredible. And we will, of course, continue to follow this story. Many thanks to our Fred Pleitgen bringing us up to date on that from Moscow.

And still to come, despite hopes of a third vaccine gaining approval, Europe is struggling under the strain of COVID-19. Angela Merkel's somber warning, that's next.



CHURCH: Europe is struggling with COVID-19, even as vaccines promise hope for the future. The United Kingdom has just suffered its second deadliest day of the pandemic. Reporting Tuesday 1,200 more people have died. And you can see deaths are spiking past last year's peak.

Meanwhile, the German chancellor has issued a somber warning. Angela Merkel told members of her party, the weeks leading up to Easter will be tough. But there may be more help as the EU regulators review a third vaccine for potential rollout.

And joining us now with the very latest, Salma Abdelaziz in London, and Melissa Bell in Paris. Welcome to you both. Salma to you first, the U.K. suffered its second deadliest day from the pandemic. What is the latest on that and of course, vaccination efforts?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Rosemary, yet another tragic and terrible milestone for this country -- the second deadliest day. And people are dying at such a rate, Rosemary, here. So quickly that the morgues are filling up, temporary facilities being used to store bodies. That's just how dire this situation is, record-breaking hospitalization rates, record-breaking death rates. And of course, it's not just about the people who are losing their

lives. It's about the people who are getting sick and ending up in this country's hospitals because the health care system here is simply on the brink. In the last seven days, the number of hospitalizations has increased by 35 percent. Just to give you an idea, here in London, the mayor said last week that 1 in 30 people, 1 in 30 people, has the illness. It's an overwhelming tsunami, wave of COVID-19 cases. And the concern is it's only going to get worse.

Health officials here say this is the worst point of the pandemic and the toughest weeks, they are ahead of us. So what's the solution? How does this country get out of this health care crisis? Well, there is one answer and one answer only, Rosemary. And that is the vaccination program.

The authorities are absolutely throwing everything at vaccinating as many people as they possibly can, as quickly as they possibly can. They want to ramp up the number of vaccinations per week to 2 million people. And like I said, all systems are go on this. We have some 80,000 staff members ready to go, 1,000 vaccination sites across the country. Troops and military dealing with operations and logistics.

What's the goal? The goal is to get the country's most vulnerable people, 15 million people all vaccinated by mid-February, otherwise, Rosemary, restrictions here, the lockdown that's in place, it won't be lifted, Rosemary. They have to get this under control first.

CHURCH: Absolutely, it is dire. Thanks for that Salma. And Melissa, to you now. How bad are infections across Europe and how are vaccinations progressing there?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the situation is deteriorating, Rosemary. And with particular fears about this spread now on the continent of that variant that was first identified in the United Kingdom. You mentioned ago, Angela Merkel's stern, worrying words to her party last night. The speculation is now in Germany that that partial lockdown that's in place might need to be extend beyond January 31.

We just heard that Italy is extending its partial lockdown. It had been due to run out on January 31st, it's now stay in place until April 31.

On Tuesday, Spain recording it's worst day in terms of infections, setting a sad record in terms of COVID-19 related deaths since the start of the pandemic.


Here in France, the head of the Scientific Council that advises the government has spoken this morning to the French press about his particular fears on the spread of that new variant. Saying that new measure will be needed if the spread is to be slowed.

Now this morning, Emmanuel Macron meeting with his ministers to look at what the situation is like and how many more restrictions, what kind of new restrictions may be necessary. And for the time being, a situation that continues to worsen, Rosemary.

As for the vaccination, of course, the AstraZeneca marketing application is now in the European Medicines Agency. But the problem is not so much the approval of fresh vaccines at this stage, in many continental countries it is the rollout of the vaccine programs. So far Italy has vaccinated more than 780,000 people. It's doing pretty well compared to some of its neighbors. In Germany, that figure is 680,000 people. Here in France, we're talking only 189,000 people that have been vaccinated so far. So it's going to take some time for these vaccination programs to begin bearing their fruit. And you're likely to see tightened restrictions before that can happen.

CHURCH: It is a massive challenge for all countries, the U.S. struggling as well to do the vaccinations en masse. Salma Abdelaziz and Melissa Bell, many thanks to both of you joining us and bringing us up to date on the situation.

And thank you for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. A special hour of "NEW DAY" with John Berman and Alisyn Camerota is up next. As we bring you this historic day in American politics with Donald Trump facing a second impeachment vote. Do stay with CNN. Have yourselves a great day.