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Senators Vote To Call Witnesses; Sources: Negotiations About Putting Exclusive CNN Reporting In The Record Instead Of Calling Witness; House Impeachment Managers Deliver Closing Arguments. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired February 13, 2021 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The push for witnesses stems from CNN's reporting last night revealing that while the capitol was attack on January 6, Trump got into a shouting match with the House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy. Trump reportedly saying and I'm quoting now, "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election then you are.
McCarthy's response, "Who the F do you think you were talking to? Now the House managers want to hear from Republican Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler. She claims to have relevant information about that phone conversation plus other witnesses could also be called by both sides. The vote to include witnesses has upended what was supposed to be a speedy finish to this historic trial with a vote on acquittal or conviction later today.
Let's bring in our special correspondent Jamie Gangel. She broke all of this reporting for us last night. Jamie, the details of this phone conversation speak to Trump's stated by during the insurrection out.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely Wolf. Just step back for a moment and think about former President Trump's words that day. I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are. Kevin McCarthy the Republican leader had just told Trump that the capital had been breached, that the rioters, the mob were breaking into his office.
He told him that his staff was running for their lives and he begged him, he pleaded with him for help and to tell them to stop and instead of doing any of that, Donald Trump sides clearly these are his own words, with the mob.
We know this from - about this phone call not only from Republican congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler who I spoke to at length yesterday but from many other Republican members of Congress because Kevin McCarthy wasn't shy about this phone call.
He wanted his members to know. I spoke to one member yesterday who is not someone who voted for impeachment, a senior Republican who said that Kevin McCarthy told him about the phone call in a conference where there were many other members. So this was not a secret but I do think what's critical here is Wolf,
Jaime Herrera Beutler and the other nine Republicans who voted for impeachment, they are not backing down and specifically she is being called to testify because she wants to testify and she has notes Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, tell us about those contemporaneous notes because Jamie Raskin, the lead House impeachment manager said he not only wants a deposition from her and he said if they could do it via Zoom, but also wants those contemporaneous notes. Tell us about that.
GANGEL: So what Congresswoman Herrera Beutler told me yesterday was that actually since the insurrection and through the impeachment, she started keeping copious notes. She has a spiral notebook and she was keeping the notes all along because she was trying to come to a decision whether or not to vote for impeachment.
That was the reason for the notebook and so when she was talking to Kevin McCarthy, they had a phone call and he told her directly about what President Trump had said. She had that notebook and she took copious, careful, real time notes.
So I think it's important to know it wasn't just that she was taking notes on that particular phone call, she had really been memorializing everything that she knew about the insurrection and to help her make a decision about how to vote on impeachment.
BLITZER: And she's clearly ready to testify in a statement she put out after your excellent exclusive reporting. She concluded by saying to the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening or even to the former vice president, if you have something to add here, now would be the time.
So she's ready to testify. Let's see what happens on that front. Jamie, once again excellent -excellent reporting.
GANGEL: Thank you.
BLITZER: John King is with me watching what's going on. It's confusing right now because the Senate did vote 55-45. Five Republicans going with the Democrats to go ahead and allow witnesses to appear before the second Trump impeachment trial but now they're going to have to vote individually on who those witnesses should be.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, either individual and each witness or the managers could bring forth a package a list of several and the Trump team to bring back a list of several so it's unclear how many votes there would be but now the issue is to agree what goes forward and again, you're in a bit of a stare down now.
The House managers have said they want the congresswoman and they want her notes and then manager Lee, manager Raskin also did say you know if that brings up new information, it's possible he would come back in, want more which is how a trial works.
[12:05:00] You bring in a witness, you get testimony. It might lead you to something else. You either want someone or something else. Documents, records or person so now the challenge is for the Trump team to have a counter proposal to see if they go forward and that's why you see out of the box Team Trump saying we want 300 witnesses.
Well, number one that's never going to happen, the Senate - but it's just the idea of now they're going to stare each other down and have a negotiation and the question is the Senate is supposed to come back in 25 minutes. Can they negotiate it by then or do we have now the trial has already been sent into the unpredictable phase and pause right now and what happens?
How long do these negotiations go on? First you have to settle the new terrain and then you enter that new terrain with presumably at least one witness and if there's one, there's likely going to be two or more and then off we go.
BLITZER: And if they were decent relations between the House impeachment managers and the defense counsels for Trump, maybe they'd be able to come up with some sort of agreement but I think that relationship is not very decent right now.
KING: There's not a relationship there and again the president's attorneys have been fish out of water and they're not constitutional lawyers, they're not impeachment lawyers. They've been outmatched so far frankly and so now I'm sure they're getting outside advice as well, trying to figure out how to go forward and again they know they're not going to get 300 witnesses.
The Senate would have to vote and so then the question becomes in a court of law, the issue becomes relevance and this is a you know impeachment court so it's not - not rules, it's not a judge and it's not trial rules but you're still going to have a debate now about essentially what can each side stomach, what can you get the votes for, is the challenge now.
BLITZER: A real dramatic surprise unfolding today. Dana, back to you.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf, we have some new information from sources in both parties about a discussion that is going on right now about how to move forward. And what I am told by again sources on both sides of the aisle and our colleagues Manu Raju and Lauren Fox have now also been hearing this, is the following.
Avoid witnesses and instead of bringing witnesses in particular Jaime Herrera Beutler, put into the record of the trial the article that Jamie Gangel did. CNN's article about her explanation about what she said so that it will be part of the trial, it will be part of the official consideration for these senators to use when they make their final vote and the terminology that I was told it is under consideration is that it would be called the stipulation as to what the congresswoman would say if called and our legal team could probably explain this better than I.
But this is legal ease that they are discussing aimed at a teasing and appealing to the House managers who want this information as part of the record by calling her for a witness but instead of calling Jaime Herrera Beutler as a witness, just putting what she would say in the record and particularly the CNN article or maybe even her official statement and I'm going to bring it Abby and David now.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Can I just ask you a quick question.
CHALIAN: And your sources may not have gotten into this, would they be able to subpoena her documentation, the contemporaneously notes without--
CHALIAN: - subpoenaing her or calling her to actually testify?
BASH: Before - before I--
CHALIAN: I don't know if--
BASH: Yes, before I answer that question, I want to - I want to underscore, this is a discussion going on. We don't know that this is where this is going to head, there are likely other discussions going on and this is a cross party lines. These are Republicans and Democrats trying to figure out how to go from here.
That's a really good question about whether or not they could subpoena her notes. My suspicion is the answer would be no. And that that no we come from Republicans in order to get this done but you know but we'll see and what is really interesting to me is what this underscores is how much neither side in the Senate wants to get this thing. Neither side wants this to continue. They want to get this thing wrapped up.
CHALIAN: For different reasons.
BASH: For very different and by the way, political reasons.
CHALIAN: Yes, this is all about--
BASH: This isn't about the substance of the trial and whether or not they believe Donald Trump should be convicted or acquitted. This is about the politics of the other business that they have to do for the country.
CHALIAN: Yes, we were just talking about this in the break. Abby was saying as well like, this whole trial right? The facts are on one side right? The facts that were put forth in evidence all week are on the side of the House managers. That's the compelling case we've all talked about.
So bringing up more facts and more evidence is obviously not likely to wear well for the president's side of the equation in the defense here. That's why it's not great for the Republicans. Not because the vote at the end may change but because this is not a good look for Donald Trump, for his legacy for his continued quest to maintain the grip he seems to still have on the Republican Party in many ways.
This is - he's at a low point in his political standing with the country.
And to continue to allow the House managers to argue this case is not good for them. On the flip side for the Democrats, it's not that their case gets worse because the trial goes on. It's because they're not moving on with the Biden presidency front and center in terms of the issues that are most front in mind for Americans which is getting vaccinations in the arms, getting kids back to school, getting the economy repaired, solving the crisis that Biden was hired by the American people to solve.
And so they would like to get on to get his team in place and to move forward with that. So it works politically for both sides perhaps to find a path like you're discovering in your conversations through this impeachment trial without extenuating the trial for just days--
BASH: And there's something else I want to add Abby as I bring you in and one of the sources described what is going on, on the Senate floor right now and in the rooms around it is that they feel that they are on a knife's edge with regard to the tension and with regard to what could happen next because even the Democrats don't want an endless flood of witnesses.
They won't agree to that and so that is part of this discussion and probably other discussions about how to go forward.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, but we should be real about that difference between the level of panic on one side versus the other. The Republicans are one way more concerned about witnesses right now than the Democrats are.
You're hearing from Senator Ron Johnson that he thinks this is a huge mistake, that it would enflame the situation. Lindsey Graham is frantically trying to figure out how to make this work. You've got other Republicans telling our colleagues on the hill that they are furious about the prospect that there could be witnesses in the case and then you have people like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green effectively threatening Congresswoman Herrera Beutler in a tweet saying, the 74 million people who voted for Trump are watching saying that she basically threw minority leader Kevin McCarthy under the bus.
There's a sense of panic on the Republican side of this that really underscores what you were just saying David, which is that the facts are not in Trump's favor here and it also underscores the ineptitude and the malpractice of Trump's lawyers.
We are in this position in part because his attorney continued to say that all of this stuff was hearsay, saying that it shouldn't even be considered because it hadn't been brought into the case. Well, now Democrats are saying let's bring it into the case and so it's up to them to say OK, well, we'll accept that because they have been discounting the value of using news articles as part of this case. They have been discounting the word of senators and Congress people
who have sat on the record of things that are relevant to this case and it's not because this is great lawyering, it's because they don't really know what they are doing and they have an elongated this process for their client which is not clearly not in his favor.
BASH: No, you're exactly right and Erin, I'm going to toss it back to you and as I do, you know I cover Congress for a long time and there are times when things are not pre-ordained or when senators think it's preordained and then it just kind of goes into chaos.
This was a new one because they were - the senators on both sides of the aisle but in particular the Democratic senators I'm hearing you know to a person are telling me and our colleagues as well but they didn't know the managers were going to call for witnesses until it actually happened and so now you are seeing and hearing the wheeling and dealing that is going on among senators to try to figure out how to deal with this now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's really amazing I mean when you think about it that they didn't talk about that before, that they kept it so close to the vest. I mean as you point out, that is part of what makes it so stunning. Let's go to our Chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju.
So Manu, you know, Dana reporting on some of the negotiations about what this might - some sort of possible offramp on witnesses as they're trying to negotiate on this whole prospect. What are you learning about the negotiations and what we could end up seeing?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are intense right now, these negotiations and there are a bunch of ideas that are floating around. I've just spoken to a number of people who were directly involved in these talks or have been briefed about what's going on and the outset is it is not resolved yet.
There is not a clear indication yet about exactly what the Senate will vote on, whether there will actually be witnesses going forward. As Dana reported, there is a discussion about whether not to submit evidence directly into the record, Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler's account of her conversation with about Kevin McCarthy's talk with Donald Trump on the day of the riot.
That is one possibility but there's also still a possibility that they could bring her forward for a video deposition and exactly when that would happen is a questions. Now one of the things that I've been heard from Republicans that I've spoken to in the hallways just now is that there is a push that for every witness that Democrats get, there should be a Trump team witness as well.
So that is really one of the crux of the discussion right now. Can they craft an agreement that will allow the Trump team to get a chance to call same amount of witnesses as Democrats have. Now that would require Democrats to agree to that because they can vote on their own by simple majority, push forward a motion to subpoena specific witnesses but there is an effort to try to do this on a bipartisan basis which is why these discussions are happening intensely behind the scenes.
Chuck Schumer having discussions with the managers that McConnell having - Mitch McConnell having discussions with the trump team and them trading different ideas back and forth so we'll see how this resolves. If they can get a deal by 12:30, we'll see.
They may have to extend the recess even further but Erin, they're trying to sort this out. Can they end the trial today? Can they move forward witness testimony? Will that change anything? It doesn't seem likely but if they do go to witness testimony, it will delay the proceedings for some time. Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Manu, thank you very much. So Laura, let me just ask you, you know first of all, what Manu just put out you know fast and furious discussions. No one expected this which is what makes this so exciting by the way that we're all sitting here and people expecting some dry Senate proceeding. That is not what they got, OK?
But this whole idea of one for one. On its face, this seems like a fair prospect.
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANYLYST: On its face it does, the idea of saying look, I am going to present some - if there is something that arises under that testimony that requires you to present different evidence, you'll have an opportunity to sort of cross or to try to offer something different.
But it could easily devolve into a tit for tat where you're simply trying to undermine as opposed to inform and the whole point of the witnesses is actually to inform, to figure out what of the factual issues in dispute can they be clarified and I suspect that this whole thing and I agree with you.
The idea that this was not foreseeable, that you actually have witnesses be called as Raskin pointed out, this was precisely the morning - the point in this morning that was ordained for him to call for witnesses. If they were unprepared because they checked out as we heard from reporting in a week, going into the gallery with their feet up, doodling and scribbling.
You weren't paying attention to the resolution or what this is actually for.
COATES: But I think it on its face, it could be something that would work out to have somebody present evidence and then rebut as long as it was comprehensive, you address every aspect because I could see a scenario where the one witness that's called by the House impeachment managers leads to four other points of dispute and would go beyond that one for one.
BURNETT: Right and it goes outside the scope as well because I mean, look, the Trump team was not taking this seriously, right? We read comments today. Oh, I want a 100 people and I wanted to pose in my office in Philadelphia and then you have a former Trump adviser with this joke of a list of 300 people.
I mean if that's the way you're looking at this, it wouldn't argue for them being able to bring any witnesses.
ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It's completely an empty threat, it's never going to happen and this idea of a stipulation which is now being talked. So stipulations happen all the time in the law and trials. It basically means both parties agree and it sounds like what they're talking about here based on our reporting, we're going to agree to essentially Jamie Gangel's reporting that if she testified, this is what Representative Beutler would say.
They're not necessarily agreeing that it's true but that she would say this and I want to say this, a stipulation here is a cop out. A stipulation has no voice, there is no testimony, there's no direct, there's no cross exam. This is the kind of thing - look, history remembers John Dean, history will never remember a stipulation.
Democrats have the Republicans on the run here and a stipulation is a cop out.
BURNETT: So the point about they for the Republicans on the run, Ross, let me ask you about this? They also have the majority, right? So they don't have to vote to have any Trump witnesses right? They can vote for their witnesses?
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right but the problem is they know people are watching and I think - I think the big issue here in some ways is that you know both sides are sort of like the dog that caught the mail truck. I think what surprised people was how hard van der Veen went after the House managers yesterday.
Remember, the first presentation that the lawyers - Trump's lawyers made was you know bumbling and sort of all over the place. Van der Veen went after the House managers and he went after the quality of their investigation and went after the due process and I think it was in light of that and directly in response to that, that Representative Raskin said all right, well you want to question how we've done our investigation, you know we are going to button a couple of things up.
And now they are - they're in this kind of situation and it may be you know, based on CNN's reporting, it maybe that both sides are looking for a way out to try to get this whole thing over.
BURNETT: Gloria, do you think Mitch McConnell would compromise if he were the Majority Leader, here?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think so. You know, look, I think you have a trial and whether it's in a court of law or whether it's on the floor of the Senate, the notion that you're never going to have a witness, that you're not going to depose a witness, I think was foolhardy from day one.
I'm not an expert on impeachments.
GARBER: I've been saying the same thing, right Laura?
BORGER: Right, we've agreed here in our corner. I do think that you had Jamie Gangel's great reporting last night and that gave Jamie Raskin an opening and he took it and he said, OK, you were saying we haven't done our work. Well, we offer to depose Donald Trump. That's not going to happen. Well, now we're going to offer to depose the congresswoman.
And what they're trying to do is look for a way that they can finagle this. You called it a cop out. It might - it might well be that they don't want to stay there.
GARBER: Finagle sounds better.
BORGER: Finagle sounds better. They want to go home, let's be honest about that.
BORGER: But they also have to get to the truth and there are threats going back and forth which always happens, whether it's depose 300 people. They have to figure out a way to get out of this without embarrassing themselves because right now it looks kind of foolish.
They all agreed to this organizing resolution, both sides. You can't complain about due process when you signed off on the organizing resolution.
BURNETT: But also Laura, I just want to make one other point here. If you - if you do what, let's call it a cop out, would be to take Jamie Gangel's article and put in the record. You are then allowing Republicans to say well, I see she put it in quotes but what, I have no idea if it's true, whatever, right?
You're allowing them to dismiss it whereas putting her, having her testify is different.
COATES: Yes, it is because you're able to ask questions, follow up questions, clarification. Who else was around you when Kevin McCarthy said this to you? What made you want to take notes? Are there other notes?
I mean the idea of using a stipulation and using the article which by the way is ironic because the entire Trump defense team, the word reportedly, every time they kept saying it, they were being dismissed and saying all you said is reportedly and news reports mean nothing and this is ridiculous.
Now they're going to say that you could give some weight to it as a stipulation, it's absurd. It's almost frankly as absurd as what we saw yesterday when as they should have been honored, the capitol police officers got a standing ovation by senators who had checked out so much in an impeachment trial that they are willing to not even hold accountable the person that put those officers in danger.
And then today they were surprised about what they were even voting for. I mean it's astounding to think about just how much they have checked out from this process.
BURNETT: It is so let me ask you OK, in this idea of a one for one, OK, the thing that would make sense, now Jason Miller's list that he was holding up had you know Nancy Pelosi on it, Kamala, it was - it was ridiculous. But what would make sense if you were going to hear from Congresswoman Beutler would be to hear from McCarthy, right?
To hear from him himself OK, so she put it in quote, you told her about it, let's read them back to you, is this what happened? Now keep in mind, on that same day he went on Fox news pleading and begging for the president to do something, right?
So there's already quite a record on McCarthy, he's not going to - he can't back off it much but that's what they should do if they cared about the truth, right?
HONIG: Absolutely, absolutely and they're supporting documents. People have made prior statements in the media, right? We know Representative Beutler, has handwritten notes and David Chalian raised this question in the prior segment.
He said can they subpoena her notes? Absolutely. You can get those notes, you can introduce them into the record, whether or not she testifies and I just keep thinking about this big picture. Wouldn't it be a shame for our constitutional system and for the American public if we have two consecutive impeachments with not a single witness?
I mean I really hope that House managers understand the importance of that to our system.
GARBER: Yes and as somebody who actually you know handles impeachments, you know that is - that is definitely true and this one in particular because at least in the last one, the House took testimony under oath you know before House committees and that was submitted in the Senate.
I was critical of that because the Senate didn't take its own testimony but here we don't even have that. We have zero sworn testimony, zero sworn testimony.
BURNETT: OK, so let me - let me just put the question because I said if you're going to one for one, I said - I said why wouldn't you ask for McCarthy for Republicans but why wouldn't the Democrats just ask for McCarthy.
GARBER: No, they could.
BURNETT: Instead of - instead of - I mean why not ask the person you had the call as opposed to the person who talked to the person who had the call.
GARBER: Yes, that is - that is something they could definitely do. McCarthy might resist a subpoena and you know then they wind up in litigation and then this thing isn't over today and then everybody can't go home right away.
You know the - and - but the other piece is you know the Trump folks will say, wait a minute, you know we thought this was going to be sort of this slapdash you know kind of who cares s process. If we're going to do a real trial, we actually do have some witnesses. If we're going to do a real trial, then we've got to do it fairly.
BORGER: But wasn't the whole thinking before this started that this was a done deal? Like you know people were just going through the process.
GARBER: That's a problem.
BORGER: And that's a problem because everybody thought OK, we know where the Republicans are, we know how they voted on the constitutional issue, etcetera, etcetera. They're not going to change their mind therefore the President of the United States wants us to get this over with quickly so this is kind of proforma.
BURNETT: What does it say to you on that front Gloria, quickly that Raskin did not talk to Schumer. That there had not been communication.
BORGER: Well, you know I think Raskin--
BURNETT: About the witnesses issue, I'm sorry.
BORGER: Oh, I think Raskin is doing what he feels he has to do and maybe Chuck Schumer might have disagreed with him on it. We don't know the - we don't know the conversation but this goes to the whole point why are they there? They are there to have a trial and they decided they all knew the verdict before they even got on the Senate floor.
And I think that was the beginning of the problem here which is in trials, you guys are lawyers, you don't know the verdict.
COATES: - House impeachment Managers that they weren't there to play. They came prepared, ready to do a trial. The Republicans were unaware of their plan.
BURNETT: Your proverbial reputation is on the line. You're not going to allow someone else to mess with it.
GARBER: Although in fairness they didn't come prepared to do a trial. They came prepared to do this sort of quick process.
BURNETT: All right. Well, we're standing by for the Senate to come back into session any moment here. They could extend it but we're waiting and as you see everyone scrambling to decide, what witnesses they're going to call, what's going to happen here. This is all unfolding history in front of our eyes. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:30:55]
BLITZER: Welcome back to our special live coverage. Any minute now the Senate is set to come back into session after the Trump impeachment trial was derailed by a vote to include witnesses. No one knows at least not yet how this is going to go, sources say there are intense talks going on behind the scenes right now about what happens next.
Let's go to our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins first. Kaitlan, this sudden twist in the trial comes as Trump's legal team apparently is in turmoil right now. What are you learning?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that's one thing that is kind of being thrown into the chaos here is whether or not this is going to drag out for weeks because while you're hearing from the former President's legal team say they're happy to drag this out and try to call a lot of witnesses. That is not actually the case behind the scenes. And they would like for this to wrap up just as much as a lot of people on Capitol Hill, a lot of Republicans certainly up there.
So basically, what's been going on this whole week as this trial has been ongoing is there has been constant tension behind the scenes within this legal team. They've been very disorganized, chaotic. There's been a lot of tension in their meetings where they've been disagree with each other on what the strategy should be going forward. And of course, they've got this backdrop of their client, who has gotten increasingly angry as the week has gone on unhappy with their performances.
Though, I should note he did like Michael van der Veen, the one that you saw earlier, on the floor arguing with the House Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin. But behind the scenes, it's been a lot of chaos, because they can't agree with each other. They do not know how to deal with these outbursts from the President when he has been critical and he has been angry.
There are two attorneys who are not very familiar with former President Trump. They don't know, you know, kind of his staff knew when he was going to be angry about something and how to just not respond or to wait for him to calm down. They're new to this.
So that's been another factor that's played into all of this. And of course, they've also had this constant feedback from Republican senators, people like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, telling them how they think they should be going about this, which I'm told they have been very resistant to and kind of irritated by this advice that they've been getting.
And so really, what this paints a picture of is a legal team that does not really want to be a legal team for much longer, but they may be forced to be if witnesses are called, and they have to continue on with this. And they kind of were under the impression that this was all going to wrap up today. And they were going to be able to go home, go on their merry way. But now they're facing this prospect that they may have to stay together as a legal team for an extended period of time.
It's not clear yet, of course, because there is so much confusion over where this is going. But certainly, a pretty strained behind the scenes tension going on within the legal team even before this witness drama started unfolding, Wolf.
BLITZER: It looks like the Senate could get back into session very, very soon. Kaitlan thank you. Lauren fox is up on Capitol Hill for us. Lauren, what's the latest you're hearing on the witness negotiations that are happening behind the scenes?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, those negotiations obviously still going, Wolf. And there was so much surprise when Raskin decided to move ahead and ask for that witness earlier today, surprising even to some managers aides who had been working with their bosses through this process.
I do want to note we are getting some new information, Wolf, on what Mike Lee gave to House managers. If you remember, his call that he received from former President Donald Trump on January 6th has been the subject of a lot of confusion surrounding what Trump knew and when he knew it.
In an effort to try to clarify that leak, Lee provided a list of his phone calls from January 6th to the House managers that I have now since obtained. And in this list of phone calls, there is a call from 2:26 from what he says is the White House.
So I think that that is significant when we are talking about the timeline of what Trump knew and when, potentially the question of course, is did Trump know when he tweeted at 2:24 that the Vice President was in danger on the floor because Tuberville had said he told the President on the phone when Mike Lee handed his phone to Tuberville that he had to get off the phone because Pence had just been rushed out.
The question was whether or not Trump tweeted this or after Lee providing this document, arguing that of course this call happened in a way that Trump would not have been aware of from that call what was going on.
Now, potentially, obviously, the President of the United States at the time would have had a sense of what was going on in the United States Senate from other security apparatuses. But I think it's one of the things that Mike Lee is trying to do here is to distance the President from what he knew and when. So providing those records, like I said, or this list of calls to the House managers, Wolf.
BLITZER: Very interesting indeed. All right, thanks very much to Lauren Fox up on the Hill.
Once again, we're standing by for the Senate to resume its session of this trial. We expect that to happen fairly soon. You can see senators back there on the floor of the Senate. Dana, you're watching all of this very closely, you've done some really excellent reporting on a possibility that the House impeachment managers could find a way to avoid actually calling a witness or two,
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: We'll see. It's actually the senators who are trying to come up with a deal because, you know, unlike a regular trial, this is one where the jury actually votes on the rules of the road. And so this is just the latest that the jury slash senators are trying to figure out with all of the dynamics that go into that not just the substance of the trial, but the politics surrounding it, and things like Joe Biden's agenda and whether that's going to get derailed.
But I want to bring in Abby and David. And I actually want to just touch on before we talk about the negotiations going on about what Lauren just reported that she got Senator Mike Lee's phone records. Now, why does this matter? This matters because there are two things going on. One is, and they all have to do with President, then President Trump's state of mind whether or not he was never mind, you know, discouraging the riot as it was happening real time but maybe even encouraging it or just disregarding it and not acting as a commander-in-chief should.
One was the conversation that Jamie Gangel reported about Kevin McCarthy, Donald Trump, one. The other which we saw play out on the Senate floor over the past couple of days is the question of whether Donald Trump knew that Mike Pence had been evacuated and whether or not effectively he cared. And so with the Mike Lee records, what he's trying to do is show that then President was not told by Senator Tuberville after he called that he was evacuated until -- when they when they talked, he didn't know that he was evacuated effectively.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: The whether he cared part I don't think is really in dispute, right? Because he never called Mike Pence, Mike Pence, we've known through reporting was not pleased with that, his family was with him. There was no, I mean, they didn't speak for several days. So there was no real sense, right, that Donald Trump expressed any kind of concern or care for Mike Pence's safety. In fact, he had spent days drumming up consternation among his base with Mike Pence, including at the rally.
So it is more of here I think that we're learning that so important, Dana, is the timeline because --
CHALIAN: -- we have been led to believe by the House managers that Tuberville's conversation with President Trump on Mike Lee's cellphone occurred prior to Trump tweeting yet again about Mike Pence. So there was the Trump tweet at 2:24 p.m. about Mike Pence not living up to his preferred assignment here to somehow unconstitutionally up in the election and given to the big lie.
We now are learning that that conversation according to Mike Lee's phone records didn't take place perhaps until 2:26. So the tweet from Donald Trump had already been sent even if Tuberville did tell Donald Trump, as he says, Vice President Pence was just evacuated from the chamber.
I got to go, Mr. President, they're getting us out of here. In fact, that information would have gotten to Donald Trump from Tuberville, we don't know about from other sources, but from Tuberville's telling two minutes after he had already tweeted egging on Mike Pence. So it wasn't the other way around, which is how the House managers had presented.
BASH: Right. Which is that he hung up the way it was suggested by the House managers is President, then President Trump hung up the phone with Tommy Tuberville after hearing that his Vice President was being evacuated and sent a tweet egging on the rioters against Mike Pence.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Yes, I think it's very significant for all of those reasons. It does not explain I think this is an unanswered question that Jim Acosta has been reporting the House managers are trying to get to the bottom of was their communication from Pence's team about the whereabouts of Mike Pence and whether he was evacuated, which he was just a few minutes before that.
So he was in the Senate chamber and had been evacuated from that chamber. The tweet comes, the phone call happens at 2:26. Now, at the exact same time, you saw the House impeachment managers playing the video of Pence and his family being ushered down a set of stairs as they were being moved to a more secure location. So that's the chain of events here. But there's still a period of time in which it is certainly possible. And I think your sources have indicated this. It seems unlikely that if the Secret Service had evacuated the Vice President --
PHILLIP: -- that no one in the White House would have been aware of that when it happened or even prior to it happening.
BASH: Yes. And that's really key. I want to bring in Manu Raju who is continuing to talk to senators as they're trying to work out how they're going to go forward. And Manu, I know you spoke to a really, really key Democratic senator.
RAJU: Yes, Joe Manchin, who's in the center of all these debates, told me that there should be an equal number of witnesses on both sides. That means that the Democrats get one witness, he believes the Trump team should get one witness. And if they get two, there should be two. He said that's how what he would support.
He would not say if he would back anything that would go on a partisan basis, just Democratic witnesses, but that is what he was pushing for. But he's not the only one, Dana, also Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats just told me moments ago, he also supports having an equal number of witnesses on both sides. He said he didn't know if he could support just Democrats going it alone. So if they were to go forward witnesses, they would need to come to some sort of resolution to have an equal number of both sides. And that could of course, delay things even further.
There's also talk if they go forward witnesses, their Senate may need to go into some sort of extended recess, maybe a week, maybe two weeks to get all the witness testimony in order to get these witnesses deposed, get it into the record. We'll see if they're able to avoid all that because what Joe Manchin also told me going into the chamber just now he heard there is a deal on an organizing resolution to determine how to go forward witness testimony.
Now, he just heard that. It's unclear if that's actually the case. But we'll see when the Senate leaders announced if there is a deal and if they've decided to avoid testimony. But at the moment there's a push to get an equal number of witnesses.
BASH: And we see, Manu standby, we see the Senate is filling up. It looks like some of the leaders are coming back in which from our experience, I know, Manu, you agree with this, that means that perhaps they're getting close to saying something whether or not that means there's a deal as we watch this.
I'm going to bring in Jeff Zeleny, who's also walking the halls working sources there. Jeff, what are you hearing?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: We are hearing that we are going to learn a way forward here from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and also perhaps Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. So we are hearing there is a deal.
But before we get to that point, Dana, if there are witnesses and that isn't, if at this point, but if there are witnesses, the Senate has already voted on how to proceed with those. That was in part of the organizing principle that they voted on at the beginning of the trial. Let's take a look at one key portion of that that lays out how witnesses would proceed.
It says this, let me read it to you. It says if the Senate agrees to allow either the House of Representatives or the former President to subpoena witnesses, the witnesses shall first be deposed and the parties shall be allowed other appropriate discovery. The Senate shall decide after deposition and other appropriate discovery, which if any witnesses testify pursuant to the rules of impeachment.
So breaking that down, that means the deposition would come first, and then the Senate would decide if they would testify. So this is something if witnesses go forward, there is a structure in place for how that would go.
But we are about to learn we believe in the next a few moments here on the Senate floor exactly what is going to happen. We believe there's guidance coming on how long this will go. And of course, many senators were hoping this would wrap this afternoon. We'll see if that happens here shortly, Dana.
BASH: That's right. And I think I see the top of Chuck Schumer's head and at the top of Mitch McConnell's head, and, you know, that means --
ZELENY: I'm sure they're thrilled with that.
BASH: Yes, they're not in the backroom. They're sitting there, which probably means --
BASH: -- as you said, you're hearing from your sources that we're going to hear something pretty soon.
And as we're waiting for this, David, I just want to say that you were talking off camera about the fact that, you know, they're doing this, and they're trying to find a way forward in a way to end the trial of former President Donald Trump and current President Joe Biden, a lot of his agenda, at least in the near future rests on this. But the fact that he is a former senator is quite interesting.
CHALIAN: Well, because we've heard from the White House and all of our sources have told us this, right? They really want to keep the focus on their agenda and getting their presidency off the ground and getting their team in place. But there's one person, the President, who actually has much more affinity than anyone else in that building, probably for the institution of the United States Senate. He served there for 36 years.
And so I was just sort of wondering, how much frustration could he really have because this is a man of the Senate and understands that the institution needs to work its will in these kinds of matters. And the Joe Biden we all know that we've known for years and covered would not want to short circuit the Senate's rights and responsibilities. Now, he's in a different job and he has a different political pursuit. There's no doubt about that.
But I just wonder if he's sort of personal view of what's going on, is matched entirely by all the people around him who have the political imperative of wanting to get his agenda moving forward to get his cabinet --
BASH: You know, it's so interesting and as you're saying that I'm actually looking at the floor again, you know, the tops of their heads, but you see Senator Chris Coons, who has Joe Biden seat in the U.S. Senate who has relationships across the aisle. He's sitting there talking to Chuck Schumer.
So it raises the question whether or not that, you know, indicates some kind of bipartisan deal to either have witnesses or not have witnesses or just some bipartisan deal to move forward. That's the only way they're going to move forward, particularly because of what Manu was reporting from Angus King and from Joe Manchin, if they want to have witnesses from both sides, if any witness at all, then they -- there, I mean because the balance of power is so slight and so slim, then that matters.
PHILLIP: Yes, they need to be able to agree, particularly on the other side, right, on the Republican side, who they would be willing to allow to go forward. It needs a 51-vote threshold, a narrow majority, not two-thirds, but just a majority. And Democrats already know who they want, the impeachment managers want, Jaime Herrera Beutler. But on the Republican side, not only has the Republican team not decided on who they want to call, but who would the Democrats agree to. That's the question that they face now.
And they've got to figure out, you know, if they can cobble together maybe a handful, a little bit more of Democrats to agree to whatever the Republicans put on the table. And I'm not sure, I'm not sure what that would look like, frankly, on either side of this.
BASH: Yes, no, absolutely. All right, guys, we are watching. It feels like something is going to happen shortly. Wolf, I'm going to toss it over to you as we watch the tea leaves.
BLITZER: Yes, it looks like that senate floor, the senators are coming back. The impeachment managers are coming back, the Trump legal defense team they're coming back. So hopefully this thing will resume momentarily. We'll get some answers, John.
And the key question, they voted that they will allow witnesses. But now apparently there's some effort underway to see if they can avoid having witnesses, because if they have witnesses, this could delay this trial, not just for a few hours, but potentially for days, if not weeks,
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. And so you're watching the leaders are both on the floor. I'm sorry, I'm turning my head but just a glance at the pictures here. The leaders are both on the floor. The House managers are there. The President's defense team, at least some of them are there.
They're clearly waiting for not from somebody, somebody is checking with somebody. They're all there and they think they have something to go forward with and they're waiting for the final nod from person to be determined to give them that nod.
But you see the leader there, as Dana was talking about and Manu reporting, I was texting with senators. And there's one proposal to put this statement from the Congresswoman in the record. And if they did that, stipulate that both sides agree to stipulate that can be in the record for senators to consider in their verdict and then move on. But the other proposal was for witnesses. And as Manu noted, I got to two texts from senators saying if that happens, they think it will be a two week break, one to two week break with most likely a two week break.
Now, they've obviously resolved this one way or the other. We just don't know which way that is. And we're waiting for the leaders to stand. And, you know, welcome to the United States Senate. And you can see the senators coming to the floor.
KING: Dana just noted, Chris Coons talking to Schumer, they're coming in to try to figure this out as well, as we wait to go forward. We thought this would be Judgment Day. Now we're not quite sure.
BLITZER: Yes, we thought there would be a vote around 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, and that obviously, doesn't look like it's going to happen. Jamie Gangel, you know, as I keep saying you're partially responsible for this delay for the witnesses because of your exclusive CNN reporting last night, in which you noted, hold on. Let's go back.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), PRESIDING OFFICER IN TRUMP'S IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: The Senate will be in order. Majority Leader, without objection, so ordered. Mr. van der Veen, no, Mr. Castor, I'm sorry.
BRUCE CASTOR JR., DEFENSE LAWYER TO FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: -- recognized --
LEAHY: Yes, you are, you are recognized.
CASTOR: Senators, Donald John Trump, by his counsel is prepared to stipulate that if the -- if Representative Herrera Beutler were to testify under oath as part of these proceedings, her testimony would be consistent with the statement she issued on February 12th, 2021. And the former President's Council is agreeable to the admission of that public statement into evidence at this time.
LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Castor. Raskin?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), LEAD IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Thank you, Mr. President.
The managers are prepared to enter into the agreement. I will now read the statement. This is the statement Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler February 12th, 2021. In my January 12th statement in support of the article of impeachment, I referenced a conversation House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy relayed to me that he'd had with President Trump while the January 6th attack was ongoing. Here the details.
When McCarthy finally reached the President on January 6th, and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot. The President initially repeated the falsehood that it was Antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the President that these were Trump supporters. That's when, according to McCarthy, the President said, well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.
Since I publicly announced my decision to vote for impeachment, I have shared these details in countless conversations with constituents and colleagues and multiple times to the media and other public forums. I told it to the Daily News of Longview on January 17th. I've shared it with local county Republican executive board members, as well as other constituents who asked me to explain my vote. I shared it with thousands of residents on my telephone Town Hall on February 8th.
Mr. President, I now move that the Senate admit the statement into evidence. LEAHY: Objection? And without objection, the statement will be admitted into evidence and as either party wish to make any further motions related to witnesses or documents at this time.
CASTOR: Mr. President, the President's Council have no further motions.
RASKIN: And, Mr. President, we have no further motions either.
LEAHY: Excuse me, then the chair would know that neither party wishes to make further motions under Section 6 of Senate Resolution 47. Therefore, the next question is on admission of the evidence submitted by both parties pursuant to Section 8 of the resolution. The Majority Leader is recognized.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: So now as we move to another matter, I'm advised that the house managers have no objection to the admission of evidence proposed to be admitted by the former President's Council under the provisions of Section 8 of Senate Resolution 47. And that the President's Council have no objections to the evidence proposed to be admitted into evidence by the House managers.
Pursuant to Section 8 of the resolution, as agreed to by Leader McConnell and myself a few days ago, both parties have made timely filings of this evidence with the Secretary of the Senate and have provided copies to each other.
I therefore ask unanimous consent that the Senate dispense with the provisions of Section 8-A of Senate Resolution 47, and that the materials submitted by both parties be admitted into evidence subject to the provisions of Section 8-C of that resolution, which provides that the admission of this evidence does not constitute a concession by either party, as to the truth of the matter is asserted by the other party, and that each senator shall decide for him or herself the wait to be given such evidence. This request has the approval of both parties and the Republican leader.
LEAHY: Without objection, so ordered. Given pursuant to the provisions of Senate Resolution 47, the Senate has provided for up to four hours of closing arguments. They'll be equally divided between the managers on the part of the House representatives and the Council for the former President. And pursuant to Rule 22, the rules of procedure and practice in the Senate when sitting on impeachment trials, your argument shall be open and close on the part of the House representatives.
So the Chair recognizes Mr. Manager Raskin to begin the presentation on the part of the House representatives. Mr. Raskin under Rule 22 you may reserve time if you wish.
RASKIN: Thank you, Mr. President. Members of the Senate, before I proceed, it was suggested by defense counsel that Donald Trump's conduct during the attack, as described in Congresswoman Beutler's statement is somehow not part of the constitutional offense for which former President Trump has been charged. I want to reject that falsehood and that fallacy immediately.
After he knew that violence was underway at the Capitol, President Trump took actions that further incited the insurgents to be more inflamed and to take even more extreme, selective and focused action against Vice President Mike Pence. Former President Trump also as described by Congresswoman Beutler's notes, refused requests to publicly immediately and forcefully call off the riots. And when he was told that the insurgents inside the Capitol were Trump supporters, the President said quote, well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.
Think about that for a second. This uncontradicted statement that has just been stipulated as part of the evidentiary record, the President said, well, Kevin, I guess these people, meaning the mobsters, the insurrectionists, are more upset about the election than you are.
That conduct is obviously part and parcel of the constitutional offense that he was impeached for, namely, incitement to insurrection, that is continuing incitement to the insurrection, the conduct described not only perpetuated his continuing offense, but also provides to us here today further, decisive evidence of his intent to incite the insurrection in the first place.
When my opposing counsel says that you should ignore the President's actions after the insurrection began, that is plainly wrong. And it of course, reflects the fact that they have no defense to his outrageous, scandalous, and unconstitutional conduct in the middle of a violent assault on the Capitol that he incited.
Senators, think about it for a second, say you light a fire, and you're charged with arson. And the defense counsel says everything that I did after the fire started is irrelevant, and the court would reject that immediately and say that's not true at all.
It's extremely relevant to whether or not you committed the crime. If you run over and try to put out the flames, if you get lots of water and say, help, help, there's a fire, you call for help, a court will infer that could infer that you didn't intend for the fire to be lit in the first place.
They would accept your defense perhaps that it was all an accident. It was all accident, accidents happen with fire. But if on the other hand, when the fire erupts, you go and you pour more fuel on it. You stand by and you watch it gleefully. Any reasonable person will infer that you not only intended the fire to start, but that once it got started and began to spread, you intended to continue to keep the fire going.
And that's exactly where we are my friends. Of course, your conduct while a crime is ongoing is relevant to your culpability, both to the continuation of the offense but also directly relevant, directly illuminating to what your purpose was originally, what was your intent. In any court in the land would laugh out, any would laugh out of court, any criminal defendant who said what I did after I allegedly killed that person is irrelevant to whether or not I intended to kill them.
I mean, come on. Donald Trump's refusal not only to send help, but also to continue to further incite the insurgents against his own Vice President, his own Vice President provides further decisive evidence of both his intent to start this violent insurrection and his continued incitement once the attack had begun to override the Capitol.
All right, Senators that was in response to this new evidentiary particle that came in. But I -- in my closing, I want to thank you for your remarkable attention and your seriousness of purpose befitting your office.
We've offered you overwhelming and irrefutable and certainly unrefuted good evidence that former President Trump incited this insurrection against us.