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CNN Live Event/Special

Soon: Impeachment Managers Resume Their Case Against Trump; Pelosi Speaks As Impeachment Managers Prepare to Resume Trial. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired February 11, 2021 - 11:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. You're watching special live CNN coverage of the history making event, the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And I'm Jake Tapper.

Democrats continue to prosecute the case against the former president. In just an hour from now, they'll have eight more hours to present evidence and arguments. House aides say they not expect to use up the bulk of the time they have remaining.

Former President Trump's lawyers will give their defense starting tomorrow.

Wednesday's evidence-filled day reacquainted the country with the sheer terror and horror of January 6th. Security video from the Capitol that we've never seen before gave the nation a fresh look at the violence, the evil that gripped the seat of American democracy and the heroism that likely saved lives of elected officials and others.

We saw just how close Senator Mitt Romney and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer came to running head on into the terrorist horde. We learned that the radical right wing terrorist mob came within a hundred feet of where then-Vice President Mike Pence was forced to shelter with his family.

And we witnessed the mob's bloodlust aimed at the Democratic speaker of the House.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nancy? Oh, Nancy? Nancy? Where are you, Nancy?


BLITZER: Senators --

TAPPER: It's like something out of a horror movie.

BLITZER: Yeah, it certainly was. And, Jake, senators who seemed to pay little attention on day one,

they intently watched at least most of them on day two but the new evidence and the dramatic recreation of the January 6th mayhem apparently did very little to sway most, most of those Republican senators, the jurors.

One calls the trial a complete waste of time and other suggests that Democratic managers did not draw a direct line between the violence of that day and the president of the United States on that day.

TAPPER: And Republicans continue to make that argument even as the Justice Department this morning drew that direct line between President Trump and at least some of the terrorists, federal prosecutors say a leader of a paramilitary group called the Oath Keepers, she viewed her actions as a direct response to then President Trump.

So, now, the question becomes, will any of today's proceedings influence senators on either side.

CNN chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny joins us now from Capitol Hill.

And, Jeff, you have new reporting on how the Democrats say they're going to conclude their case against the former president today.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we are getting more of a sense of what those House impeachment managers are planning to do. And we are told they're going to zero in on the fact that President Trump showed no remorse on that day and in the days following.

So, we certainly heard a sense of that yesterday. Just a minute-by- minute, hour-by-hour accounting of what has happening here on Capitol Hill, and what the president was doing back at the White House. I'm told we are going to hear even more of that, shining a light on his direct role in certainly inciting and leading up to this attack on January 6th.

But in the hours of what was planning to do on that day, what he was doing on that day. So, we're not expecting necessarily any dramatic video like we saw yesterday that really had the Senate chamber in rapt attention through the day here.

TAPPER: Jeff, I'm sorry to interrupt you. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is speaking right now. We're going to bring that to people live.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: -- to see it work, especially our chairman, organizing their committees to get ready for our bill that we anticipate will become law as soon as possible. The American Rescue Plan put forth by President Biden as part of -- part of how we meet the needs of American people. The pandemic and the economic crisis that go with it continues to be devastating to the American people.

This legislation is necessary. But don't take my word for it. Yesterday, the chairman of the Federal Reserve stated that the real unemployment rate is 10 percent, matching the worst point in the Great Recession. In his speech, he said, for recovery, fiscal policy is an essential tool for this situation. He referenced that monetary policy would not be enough.

Chairman Powell played down the fears of inflation during the pandemic and noted that in his words inflation has been much -- has been much lower and more stable over the past three decades than in earlier times and that he did not expect it to accelerate in a sustained way coming out of the pandemic.


As Chairman Powell said: Given the number of people who have lost their jobs, the likelihood that some will struggle to find work in the pandemic economy, in the post-pandemic economy, achieving a sustaining maximum employment will require more than supportive monetary policy, it will require a society-wide commitment. Hence, the legislation that our members are working on this week.

We hope to finish our markups in committee this week and then send it to the Budget Committee next week for them to do -- work their will on it, then to the Rules Committee and then to the floor and we hope to have this all done by the end of February.

Certainly, on the president's desk in time to offset the March 14th deadline where some unemployment benefits will expire.

I'm particularly interested in how women are affected by the pandemic but also by this legislation. Over 2.3 million women have been forced to leave the workforce entirely, including 1 million moms. That's why this bill is so important, because it has a strong commitment to childcare, so that parents, moms and dads, are able to go to work, as a strong commitment to getting our kids back to school, another path to the workforce for moms.

Last month, January, nearly 80 percent of workers who left the workforce were women and in December, there was 90 percent of those who had left the workforce were women. The women's labor force participation rate is now just about 57 percent, the lowest level in 33 years. For women of color, the situation is even worse.

Again, that is about the livelihood of the American people, about the lives of the American people. I talked about 10 percent unemployment as quoted by the chairman of the Fed, Chairman Powell. Another number that is just so somber -- sobering is 470,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus -- 470,000.

Again, this legislation that we're passing now so addresses the needs of the American people when it comes to the coronavirus. It's about the lives and the livelihood of the American people. We're proud again of our committee chairs who are moving ahead expeditiously, with nine committees working on marking up legislation for the American Rescue Plan this week. They're moving forward to crush the virus, the funding there for the virus production, distribution, for testing, et cetera, for other funding in terms of access to health care. Again, the goal is to put vaccines in people's arms, children back in school, workers back in their jobs, and money in people's pockets.

And the money in people's pockets, we're very proud that in the legislation we in the House, the Education and Labor Committee marked up its bill on Tuesday until 4:00 a.m. Wednesday morning -- big part of money in people's pockets in the Education and Labor Committee, in addition to making our schools safe for our children to go back to school.

In the bill, it gradually raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour, increases paychecks, and doing so increases paychecks for 27 million workers and pulling nearly a million people out of poverty. Well over 50 percent, closer to two-thirds or 70 percent of people making the minimum wage are women, many of them women of color.

Again, it secures the child tax credits, helping nearly one in three adults having trouble paying for household expenses and 12 million children from going hungry. So, in the legislation, we have the child tax credit. This is quite remarkable, $3,000 for a child -- a child and then six years and under, it is $3,600.


This is pulling these children out of poverty.

The bill also addresses those who are food insecure, rental -- rent insecure and the rest. So, it's a very important piece of legislation. It is what this country needs.

And I salute not only the president and vice president for their leadership in recognizing that in this important work, but also to do so in a way that is robust, and meets the needs of the American people, but also meets the needs of the strength of our economy.

We plan --

TAPPER: All right. Speaker Pelosi there talking about the COVID relief bill. We're going to dip out of that and come back if there is any news.

Let's continue with our conversation about this impeachment trial of former President Trump.

With me now, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash. Also with me, of course, CNN senior political correspondent Abby Phillip.

And, Dana, I want to start the conversation this morning with something we heard from South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham last night on Fox. Take a listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The not guilty vote is growing after today. I think most Republicans found the presentation by the House managers offensive and absurd. The managers have got this cockamamie idea, absurd theory that Donald Trump was monitoring the Proud Boys' website and other far right websites and that he and Dan Scavino knew this was going to happen and they encouraged it. That is loony tunes.


TAPPER: So I reached out to a bunch of Republican senators this morning to see if they agreed with what Senator Graham said. They said first of all, three of them told me that they did not think it was true that most Republicans found the presentation offensive and absurd. And of the five senators I communicated with, none of them thought it was offensive and absurd.

Now, two of them did say that they thought that perhaps the House impeachment managers were pushing a bridge too far, were going a bridge too far in the sense that they could make the case that Donald Trump knew that a lot of people were violent, he incited them to go down to the capitol and he is therefore responsible for what happened after there -- after that, as well as the fact that he didn't do everything that he could to protect the legislative branch.

BASH: Right.

TAPPER: But the idea that President Trump and his team were in cahoots with these far right military might be a bridge too far. So, that's the feedback I got from five Republican senators today.

BASH: Yeah, and you know what, it depends on how you define or you interpret in cahoots, if that is having private conversations, maybe. But we know, just in general from observing Donald Trump for five years and more specifically from the presentations that we've seen over the last two days, is he doesn't need to do anything in private. He does it all in public. That is what is so remarkable about this.

And the fact is that he is a veracious consumer of information, never mind if he is getting it through his PDB or official channels, he could just watch it on television. And when I say it, I mean the effect that he was having on these people. And as this is going on, in the Senate, what we see is case after case being -- you know, moving through the federal courts.

For example, one man Dominic Pezzola, who was indicted last month about this insurrection on conspiracy and other charges, here is what his lawyer told the federal judge. The lawyer said, the president maintained that the election had been stolen and it was the duty of loyal citizens to stop the steal. Admittedly, there was no rational basis for the claim but it is apparently Pezzola was one of millions misled by the president's deception.

This is one of the perpetrators that we saw in those videos and his lawyer is saying that he was -- he felt that he was being directed by the president of the United States.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a little bit of a straw man I think for Lindsey Graham to claim the only way that Donald Trump could be responsible for the inevitable violence that occurred was if he was text messaging with members of the Proud Boys. I don't think that that's really the allegation that the impeachment managers were making to your point, Dana, but it's -- it doesn't require them to have, you know, direct contact or Trump saying to them, oh, go and break into the Capitol.

But at the same time, what I think was laid out yesterday was the president repeatedly encouraging violence in general, pushing the conspiracy theory that undergirded the riot on the Capitol and also created the means by which it would happen, which is that march from the ellipse to the Capitol.


So, on some level, there is -- Graham and others who have pointed this out, are right that there is a need to continue to make that connection, or to make a stronger connection between what Trump wanted and what happened, but the reality is it doesn't require, you know, that he get on the phone with the head of the Proud Boys and make a phone call saying go riot on the Capitol.


TAPPER: I think that the point of Lindsey Graham might be making if I could try to read his mind, which I'm not particularly good at, I should admit, is that there were -- there was one house impeachment manager and I forget it was Delegate Stacey Plaskett from U.S. Virgin Islands or Congressman Cicilline from Rhode Island, but one of them was talking about the planning on far right message boards and suggesting that the Trump administration had to have known.

And obviously there is a big difference between the FBI monitoring these hate groups and then like Bill Barr telling President Trump, hey, it looks great, you know, the far right is coming in. There was a suggestion there that the Trump team knew.

BASH: Right. But we've all covered White Houses. We've covered, you know, I've covered politics and national security and law enforcement and all of those things for a very long time. It is really hard for any of us, legitimately, to wrap our mind around the fact that somebody, at least close to the president, if not the president himself, was not informed about these message boards.

That is, again, in the formal channels. Never mind the fact that because, as I said before, he is somebody who watches TV all the time, had to have known this was coming up.

TAPPER: Yeah, all I'm saying is what Graham said and what a different Republican senators said to me.

BASH: Yeah, no, I get it, I get it.

TAPPER: They're not saying what might or could have happened. They're talking about the fact that the House impeachment managers brought this up as if this was some sort of proof. That's all I'm saying.

But let -- let me throw it back to Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: All right, Jake, thank you.

President Biden meanwhile is meeting today with a bipartisan group of senators to talk about infrastructure. This is his next big agenda item after the coronavirus relief package. The president's message last hour mirrors what he and his team have repeated this week, that he's not, not focusing in on the impeachment trial in the Senate, but on running the country.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My job is to deal with the promises I made and we all know we have to move on. I think the Senate has a very important job to complete, and I think -- my guess is some minds may be changed, but I don't know.


BLITZER: Let's discuss with our chief national correspondent, the anchor of "INSIDE POLITICS", John King.

On Tuesday, he met with business leaders, the president, on Wednesday, he went to the Pentagon, spoke about Myanmar, had a phone call with the Chinese President Xi Jinping, for today, infrastructure meeting.

What do you think of the strategy to try to suggest, you know, he's not really paying attention to the Senate impeachment trial?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a reflection that the new president understands his first 100 days are critically important. He will be judged on the vaccine rollout and what the COVID numbers look like two months, three months, four months from now. He will be judged on what the economy looks like and the COVID impact on that economy two months, three months, and then, obviously, his party two years and four years from now.

He is focusing on the Biden agenda not the Trump impeachment right now, which is smart politics for him, the new president. He's also losing -- he's losing, he understands this -- he's losing seven to ten days of those precious first 100 days of a new administration where the Congress normally would be debating on this day the COVID relief package or some piece of it or more of the sub-cabinet team, can get the agenda through. He realizes he's losing some time in the oxygen of Washington and he's trying to make sure that for people in the country who will judge him and hold him accountable, he's doing the -- the Legos, if you will, putting the foundation together for the agenda he has to pass.

Now, I'll just add this at the end, when this is over, however it ends in this trial, number one, we expect to hear from the former president, the defendant in this impeachment trial, and I think at that point, the American people will want to hear from the current president.

We don't know the outcome of the trial yet. I know everybody thinks the books are cooked. I say let's have an open mind and see what the verdict is in the end, but I do think it will be important then for the new president to talk about the moment, to talk about what is likely to be a decisive moment in the country, and then, you know, try to say it's time to move on, it's time to do other things, but the challenge will come at the end.

BLITZER: So you agree with me that the president -- President Biden would like to see this trial wrapped up as quickly as possible so the Senate could get back to confirming cabinet members, sub-cabinet members, so the Senate could get back to dealing with the COVID relief package, other critically important issues. He wants this trial over with.

KING: Yes. But, look, we covered the White House together for a long time. Presidents have great powers, but they sometimes do not control the calendar.


This has to happen. He knows that.

The timing is horrible for the new president. The conversation is again about his predecessor, it's again about dividing the country, it's again about Republicans versus Democrats or Trump versus whatever.

Joe Biden would like the conversation to be -- President Biden -- about something else. But it is what it is -- I hate to use the cliche -- but it is what it is. He would like this to be over. But at the same time, at the same time, he understands and has to support the Democrats as they believe for accountability purposes this has to happen.

BLITZER: And it is happening right now.

Let's go to Anderson.

Anderson, about 40 minutes or so until this trial resumes on the Senate floor.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yeah, another dramatic day.

Coming up, impeachment prosecutors make new never-before-seen footage a key part of their case. What the video show about the grave threat inside the capitol that day.

Plus, impeachment managers wrapping up their case against former President Trump today. What our legal experts say they need to convey in their closing arguments.



COOPER: The jurors heard arguably the most compelling evidence so far on Wednesday, in the former president's second impeachment trial. Never-before-seen security videos show just how close senators, representatives, and the vice president of the United States then were to the Trump-incited radicals. In one case, House impeachment managers described senators being just 58 paces from the mob.

CNN's Pamela Brown joins me now.

So, Pamela, can you just take us kind of a closer look at some of the extraordinary security footage that we saw from yesterday.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Anderson, you can't hear it but you could see it. And the video tells the story.

This is video you see, Eugene Goodman, the heroic officer, running towards Senator Mitt Romney, tells him to turn around, directs him to turn around. You've seen Mitt Romney running.

Look at the time stamp. This is a minute after the first rioters entered the Capitol building and, once again, Eugene Goodman potentially saving Mitt Romney's life as he was initially going toward the rioters and then turning around.

Then, here is video of Mike Pence evacuating from the Senate chamber. Look at the time stamp right there. This is about 13, 14 minutes, there he is, there is Mike Pence, the vice president at the time, going down the stairs, shuffling down.

This is around 14 minutes after the first rioter entered and we know that moments after these rioters entered the Senate chamber where Mike Pence just was and he was feet away from his undisclosed location from where the rioters were. So, you see in this video, Mike Pence there with the white hair turning around briefly.

And he's there with his family. Mike Pence with his family evacuating from the Senate chamber just moments away from being face-to-face with the rioters who have been yelling that they wanted to execute Mike Pence. They wanted to hang him because the president had been telling him (ph) lies that he was a traitor.

So it's really remarkable and show you just how urgent the situation was as we learned more about what happened and this new -- newly released security footage that we saw on the presentation yesterday, Anderson.

COOPER: There is another clip we saw for the first time showing senators and staffers kind of quickly ushered down a stairwell. Could you just kind of walk us through that?

BROWN: Yes. So, this is shortly after we saw Pence leaving. You get really the feel -- you look at the body language from law enforcement there trying to shuffle out the lawmakers and their staff going down the stairs here.

Again, this is about 14, 15 minutes after the first rioter entered the Capitol building. And so, they're being spread throughout the Capitol building and, as you see here, there is lines of lawmakers and staffers shuffling down the stairs.

And this is remarkable video we also saw. This is of Chuck Schumer, Senator Chuck Schumer at the time. You see, he's walk -- he's about to walk through these doors right here, relatively calm, walking down with his security detail, holding a gun right there.

So he's walking through and then watch what happens in just a second from now. They're walking through and then they abruptly have to turn around and they're running away, running away. We don't exactly know, but clearly there was a concern of a threat. You see the security detail locking the door behind him.

This shows you how chaotic it was, how unpredictable it was as rioters were filling up the capitol building, lawmakers didn't know which way to go. In this situation you see, they were going one way, and they had to quickly turn around and go the other direction, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah, incredible videos.

Pamela Brown, thanks very much. Let's turn to our legal team right now.

Laura Coates is CNN senior legal analyst and a former federal prosecutor. CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen served as counsel for the House Judiciary Democrats during Donald Trump's first impeachment. Ross Garber is CNN legal analysts, teaches political investigations and impeachment law at Tulane. Also here, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger.

Laura, just talk about what was done yesterday and what you think the House managers need to do today. One of the things that some Republicans are saying that they haven't done is shown that President Trump was involved and not only instigating this violence but the details of what actually he did do, we saw what he didn't do, but what he did do while this was happening.

I want to play something that David Cicilline way saying about Ben Sasse comments. Let's watch.


REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Senator Ben Sasse relayed a conversation with senior White House officials that President Trump was, quote, walking around the White House confused about why other people on his team weren't as excited as he was.


COOPER: Do they need to kind of get more details if they can?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: They should have corroboration of what Ben Sasse was referring to in that moment. I would note that the end of the event of yesterday, you had Senator Mike Lee jumping up to say, I didn't say that. I've been mischaracterized.

You did not have Senator Ben Sasse saying (ph) that to say that what he had conveyed already was untruthful. I want to see the collaboration of what he did in that moment.