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House Democrats Wrap Up Impeachment Argument Against Trump; Interview with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Key GOP Senators, Who are Also Trial Jurors, Meet Privately with Trump's Lawyers; Source: Trump's COVID-19 Condition Was So Concerning That Doctors Considered Putting Him on a Ventilator. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired February 11, 2021 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: They argued that Trump directly and knowingly incited the deadly Capitol insurrection, that he showed absolutely no remorse and took no responsibility.
They used his own words and actions and the words of rioters as evidence.
Finally, the House managers made an urgent appeal to convict the 45th president and also to ban him from seeking or holding federal office ever again. They offered a chilling warning that the violence, the chaos and the division could all be replayed in four years if Trump were to run again and were to lose again.
Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Ryan Nobles, up on Capitol Hill.
Ryan, as the Trump defense prepares to make its case, what are you learning?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're seeing that they're already beginning to prepare for the Trump defense.
In fact, a group of key Republican senators, also serving as jurors, were seen going into a private room with members of the Trump legal defense team, this as they plan their response to the Democratic House impeachment managers that worked today to directly tie the actions of President Trump to what happened here on January 6.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): The Senate is adjourned.
NOBLES (voice-over): The Democratic House impeachment managers have rested their case against former President Donald Trump.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): He attacked the First Amendment. He attacked the Constitution. He betrayed his oath of office. Presidents don't have any right to do that. It's forbidden.
NOBLES: The prosecutors wrapped their case with hours of time available, hoping a shorter presentation will have a greater impact.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of my wonderful supporters.
NOBLES: On day three, they tied Trump to the mob by showing that those who stormed the Capitol did so because they believed the president had sent them there.
REP. DIANA DEGETTE (D-CO): You don't have to take my word for it that the insurrectionists acted at Donald Trump's direction. They said so.
PROTESTER: We were invited here! We were invited! Hey, we were invited here!
PROTESTER: We were invited by the president of the United States!
RIOTER: Let's call Trump, yes!
NOBLES: The managers showed several examples of rioters shouting Trump's name and proclaiming they were doing his bidding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he not realize President Trump called us to siege the place?
JENNIFER RYAN, ARRESTED BY FBI: I was following my president. I thought I was following what we were called to do.
RIOTER: We're fighting for Trump.
NOBLES: They then showed how Trump offered his support for the mob and demonstrated no remorse for the role he played in inciting their anger.
TRUMP: My speech and my words and my final paragraph, my final sentence -- and everybody, to the T. thought it was totally appropriate.
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): We know President Trump didn't make a mistake, because, you see, when you or I make a mistake, and something very bad happens, we would show remorse. We would accept responsibility. President Trump didn't do any of that.
Why not? Because he intended what happened on January 6. And how do we know that? He told us.
NOBLES: Trump's legal team will get their opportunity to rebut the Democratic arguments tomorrow. But they attempted to get a head-start today.
Their lead lawyer, David Schoen, left the chamber while the trial was under way to go on FOX News. He promised their presentation will show no link between Trump and the actions of January 6.
DAVID SCHOEN, IMPEACHMENT ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: I think you will at least be moved by what you see and get a much better picture of exactly what's going on here and the hypocrisy in some of the positions taken by the House managers in this case.
NOBLES: But Democrats believe they have provided overwhelming evidence of Trump's connection to the crime and warn that it was incumbent upon these jurors to hold him accountable because of what might happen in the future.
LIEU: I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose, because he can do this again.
NOBLES: And we told you about that meeting between some of the Republican senators and the Trump legal team.
As Senator Lindsey Graham, one of those senators that was in that meeting, left the room, he would not say what they were talking about, just saying that he will see everyone tomorrow. It is, though, evidence, Wolf that these Republican senators already have their minds made up.
Many, after watching the presentation today, conceded that they thought the Democratic House impeachment managers did an excellent job with their presentation. But they still cannot get past this process argument that you cannot impeach a president that has already left office. And it seems to still be very unlikely that the former president will be convicted.
BLITZER: All right, Ryan Nobles up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.
Let's get some analysis.
Let's start with John King.
John, the House impeachment managers just laid out their entire case against the former president. Do you believe it was enough to convince some of these Republican senators to actually do what they're clearly so reluctant to do, but actually go ahead and convict him?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It appears we will know that answer as early as Saturday night or into Sunday. The trial appears to be on that fast of a track, Wolf.
I think you have to say, by what we just heard from Ryan and other reporting tonight, the answer is, as of the moment, it does not look so. You have Lindsey Graham and other Republicans actually in plotting strategy with Trump's lawyers. They are supposed to be impartial jurors. Tells you everything you need to know.
You have Joni Ernst of Iowa, Marco Rubio of Florida, two Republican senators, leaving the chamber tonight, giving credit, complementing the presentation by the Democrats, saying it was very powerful, the case they laid forward, but still saying they have doubts about whether it's appropriate to convict a former president.
So, you see some Republicans coming up with a political argument. We will watch how this plays out in the end. But this is the challenge the managers have, the House managers, essentially the prosecutors here. They're essentially trying two cases, Wolf. They want to convict President Trump in the Senate.
If they fail at that, because they don't get enough Republican votes, they're trying to convict the Republican Party in the American court of public opinion, making the sense that, we presented our evidence and these Republicans decided to stay with Donald Trump, to stay as the party of Trump.
BLITZER: You know, Abby Phillip is with us as well.
The Democrats' presentation, Abby, I think everybody agrees, was very, very strong, but their assignment to actually changed the minds of these Republican jurors, these Republican senators, that's an enormous challenge, isn't it?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is, because, in part, so many of these Republican jurors, 45 of them, voted just a couple of days ago to say that the whole proceeding is unconstitutional, in their view.
And so it really raises the bar for them to -- although I will say it is certainly possible for them to vote one way in that vote, and then now that issue has been decided, to look at the merits of the case, and evaluate it, and make a decision about whether Trump is in fact guilty or not of the case that is at hand, which is whether he incited a riot.
But so many of them are not even at that point. They don't want to deal with the substance, because they're really concerned about their political futures. They don't want to invite primary challenges. They don't want to invite well-funded opponents coming into their states and giving them a hard time.
And, so, many of them are going to take the easiest route. And the easiest route right now, if you're a Republican in the Senate, is to vote to acquit Donald Trump.
BLITZER: You know, our senior legal analyst, Laura Coates, with us.
Laura, strictly from the legal perspective, did these House impeachment managers, the nine of them, did they present a complete and persuasive case?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, full stop.
And when you're a prosecutor, you actually have to just meet your burden of proof to unbiased jurors who know nothing about it. In a political impeachment trial, you have to do that, and try to change the minds of those who are politically obstinate.
And they actually didn't have to meet the criminal standard in a political trial of that this was incitement speech. But they still did so. They laid out that the president intended to have the conduct that occurred, it was imminent lawless action that actually did occur. They laid it out.
But they're facing very Herculean efforts right now to try to persuade those who are looking for an exit ramp, an exit hatch that had been sealed off by their compelling testimony. They broke it down into two ways, Wolf, what the president did and what the president did not do.
And I must say, for an impeachment trial that everyone thought would divide the country, these House impeachment managers went above and beyond to show that they should be unified as one. It happened to them. It happened to us, they kept saying. The president, they said, left everyone, all of us in the Capitol here to die, and left with those three questions about why the president didn't do more to turn those rioters, those insurrectionists back.
And if the defense team can't answer that question, we should all know that those senators found the exit ramp of the procedure that they already had in the rearview mirror, and it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it's a shame for leadership.
BLITZER: Yes, the House impeachment managers, all nine of them, Laura, they tried to offer what's called a prebuttal to the Trump defense team by arguing that the First Amendment defense is nothing more than a distraction, because I suspect, tomorrow, when the Trump lawyers make their case, they're going to cite the First Amendment.
That's what the president, they say, was doing.
COATES: They will. They will cite it, and they will try to suggest it was protected speech that anyone would be vulnerable for, the slippery slope that would occur if you hold him accountable for what they call political hyperbole, but what people who've heard the evidence would call incitement of a riot.
They're going to hang their hat on there, and they're going to try to hook it, as they did in their trial brief, on cancel culture, that somehow this impeachment is somehow and way and a vehicle of censorship, of trying to usurp the will of the people through disqualification.
And they're going to have to prove those things. And they have set up in their brief a couple of points where they have raised factual disputes. And one of the big ones here, Wolf, to consider is that they say there was a flurry of activity that Trump did to try to repel the attack.
They have now raised that. They better be prepared to prove it. Otherwise, somebody who is so misunderstood, like they say Trump is, why wouldn't they contort themselves into a contrite pretzel trying to call back those people who had a flag in their name and committed a riot?
If they can't prove it, then they have missed the mark, and America will suffer in terms of its democracy.
BLITZER: You know, Abby, the House managers, the nine of them, they argued that the threat posed by the former president not -- is not just in the past.
I want you to listen to congressman Ted Lieu of California. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIEU: I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose, because he can do this again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is that argument likely to resonate with the Republicans in the chamber?
PHILLIP: Well, there are definitely some Republicans for whom that is the profound question, because it's not about Trump specifically. It's about the actions that he is accused of, and whether condoning it by not punishing it opens the door for it to happen again.
Now, it could be Trump again in four years if he were to run, but it could be someone else. And you do see Republicans like Mitt Romney and others -- I think even Senator Cassidy, who surprised a lot of people by changing his vote earlier this week, seem to open the door to this being a primary issue.
He raised the point that this wasn't just any kind of riot. This was a riot aimed at stopping the activity of the government of the United States. And that's ultimately, I think, the big question that this impeachment -- this impeachment procedure poses to Republicans who are hesitant to vote to convict, which is, are you protecting the democracy by allowing this to go forward without any kind of punishment?
And maybe it will be Trump in four years, but it really could be anyone who might try to do exactly the same thing again.
BLITZER: John, the House impeachment managers, they clearly were appealing to the Republican senators.
I thought one of the most effective things they did, they had all these clips, these video clips of Republican governors, in Maryland, in Ohio, Massachusetts, Republican lawmakers, former Trump administration Cabinet members, and other officials saying how awful the president was in doing what he did around January 6.
But the question is, is that going to resonate with these Republican senators?
KING: Well, no that in the final math.
But this gets back to Laura's point about these -- the House managers, the Democrats, deliberately tried to say, this is about all of us. This is about the country. This is about Democrats. This is about Republicans. This is about our staff. This is about the Capitol Police. This is about the custodial staff. This is about all of us. Forget your name. Forget your party. Forget where you come from. This is about all of us.
And, Wolf, it was also a smart strategic move, in the sense that one of the arguments you're going to hear from the president's lawyers is, he did not tell them specifically to do this, this was not his doing.
And the Democrats were powerfully saying, if you don't think the president had the power to stop this, why did so many of you, Republican members of Congress, go on television that day, go on social media that day and say, Mr. President, you're the only one who can stop this? Stop this.
The Democrats, the prosecutors essentially saying, you all know this. Every Republican in this room knows the power of this president. He was the one who brought them here. He could have stopped it. He didn't.
BLITZER: And why did so many Trump officials, Cabinet members and others, resign as a result of this? That was a pretty powerful moment.
All right, everybody, stick around.
Coming up, I will speak with one of the Senate jurors about the House managers' final arguments and what happens next.
And President Biden makes a new announcement on vaccines and hits former President Trump for -- quote -- "not doing his job."
BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news on the House impeachment managers arresting their case against Donald Trump.
They offered a final, very compelling argument that the former president is directly responsible for the deadly Capitol insurrection.
We're joined now by one of the senators serving as an impeachment trial juror, Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland.
Senator, thank you so much for joining us.
The House managers they tried to tie Donald Trump directly to the insurrection, arguing that the rioters were taking what they called marching orders from the former president. Do you believe that the House impeachment managers made their case?
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Well, Wolf, it's good to be with you.
I think they laid out a very compelling case. And I think the way they ended on the questions that Jamie Raskin asked for the president's lawyers to answer, and that is, why did the president wait so long before asking his supporters to leave the Capitol? Why did the president wait so long before answering our question on sending help to the Capitol, as far as the National Guard?
And why has he never condemned what the intruders did, what the rioters did? These are questions that I think we all want to hear answered. So, we're waiting for, of course, the president's lawyers to put on his defense.
But I thought that Jamie Raskin, the House managers laid out a very coherent case against the president.
BLITZER: We learned just a little while ago, Senator, that some of your Republican colleagues, including Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, they actually went into a room off of the -- near the Senate over there.
They met with Mr. Trump's attorneys earlier in the afternoon.
Is that something impartial jurors should be doing?
CARDIN: Well, that's very unusual. I'm surprised to hear that.
Look, we all need to make our own independent judgments. We took a separate oath to be jurors and to weigh the information that is presented. That's why I say we need to listen to what the president's lawyers are suggesting. We have a chance for questions and then closing arguments.
But it seems a little strange to have separate meetings with the counsel.
BLITZER: Yes, I thought it was strange as well.
Does it weaken the House impeachment managers' case that they didn't call on witnesses, something Democrats, as you well remember a year ago, called for in the first Trump impeachment trial?
CARDIN: Well, Wolf, we haven't decided that question yet.
So, after the president's lawyers present their case, if the House managers believe that witnesses are necessary, then we will consider that.
But recognize that we all witnessed the events of January the 6th. The information that we have, a lot of it's firsthand information. And, of course, it was very powerful to see the videos that were presented by the House managers.
So, we have a lot of firsthand information. I don't know whether witnesses will be necessary, but we have reserved that right.
BLITZER: Have you actually spoken, Senator -- and you don't have give us names if you don't want to -- to any of your Republican colleagues? Do you think any of them may actually vote to convict? CARDIN: You know, I have not talked to my House -- my Senate
colleagues. I haven't talked to my Democratic or Republican colleagues.
This is a matter of individual conviction. You have to vote your conscience. And, therefore, it's not really, I think, appropriate to try to talk to my colleagues as to how they think the trial is going.
BLITZER: Senator Ben Cardin, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.
CARDIN: Oh, my pleasure. Good to talk with you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we're getting some new details right now on President Trump's impeachment defense, just hours away, by the way, and why his lawyers may cut their presentation rather short.
Plus, there's breaking pandemic news we're watching. President Biden makes a major vaccine announcement, as he visits the National Institutes of Health.
BLITZER: Tonight, the impeachment trial spotlight is shifting to the Trump legal team, now that House impeachment managers have wrapped up their case against the former president.
Let's bring back our chief domestic correspondent, Jim Acosta. He is covering the former president for us. He's done in West Palm Beach, not far from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.
Jim, there was a lot of criticism of the Trump legal team's performance at the start of the trial. So, I understand you're doing some reporting on what's going on. What can we expect tomorrow?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, I think they're mindful of that performance that was panned earlier this week. And they're going to try to streamline and condense this presentation that they're going to be delivering to these senators tomorrow.
I talked to Bruce Castor, who is one of the president's impeachment lawyers, and he said that they have been cutting down their planned presentation to shorten it. And they have been doing that all day long.
So, I think the strategy, the approach at this point is, less is more. But, at the same time, well, if they are going to try to make some points.
And I think one of those points -- and we heard some of the attorneys talking about this earlier today when they were talking about this with reporters up on Capitol Hill -- is, they're going to try to make the case that, when the president was using words like, you have got a fight like hell, and so on, that that was not a direct invitation, or a direct incitement of the people who were on hand for that rally on January 6, that you can't draw a direct connection between the words that he used and what those protesters did up on Capitol Hill.
Now, obviously, the Democratic House managers presented a devastating case to say otherwise, but the Republican senators who have been advising this impeachment team and sources that we have been talking to are indicating that that's what the defense team is going to be arguing.
In addition to that, Wolf, I think we're going to see a video presentation or two tomorrow trying to accuse the Democratic House managers of hypocrisy. We have been hearing from our sources that they're going to try to show people like Ted Lieu and Eric Swalwell and so on, some of these House impeachment managers, when they have used heated rhetoric and said things like fight like hell.
Of course, there's no equivalence there. There weren't insurrections that occurred after those House impeachment managers used that kind of rhetoric. It did happen with former President Trump.
As for the former president, Wolf, I will tell you, he was out on the golf course earlier today trying to, I think, communicate a message that he's not too worried about this. And when I talked to Bruce Castor about their expectation in terms of the final vote total on conviction or acquittal, Castor said they are -- quote -- "very confident" that the president is going to be acquitted.
In the meantime, though, I will tell you, talking to a source familiar with the former president's thinking, he still is not satisfied in terms of what he's seeing on the airwaves. Remember, he is the television viewer in chief, the cable news viewer in chief. And he feels as though, according to this source I spoke with, there have not been enough legal voices out there defending the president, defending what he did on January the 6th.
And that, I think, was evident to some extent earlier today, Wolf, when we saw one of those impeachment lawyers, David Schoen, incredibly, walk out of the trial as it was going on and do a live shot, do a hit on FOX News, I think trying to communicate to that audience of one that, yes, his attorneys are out there trying to make his case -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, it's good point.
All right, Jim Acosta, thank you very, very much.
Joining us now, two former Republican members of Congress, Mia Love and Charlie Dent. They're now both CNN political commentators.
Mia, do you see this impeachment trial as a watershed moment for your party, the Republican Party?
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, it's -- the evidence that was presented today, I think, was absolutely devastating.
There was video footage that the public has not seen. I think they laid out the case very well that this was incited violence by the president. And it's put a lot of Republicans in a very, very difficult position.
However, I do not believe that it was enough to get 17 Republicans to vote for impeachment, because they're still caught up on this process issue.
They're still caught up on, is it constitutional to remove a sitting president, and they have to deal with their district at the end of the day. So I think that those are some very, very difficult -- it's a very difficult position for Republicans to be in.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask Charlie, what would an acquittal mean for the Republican Party? What sort of impact could an emboldened Mr. Trump have on Republicans going down the road?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, an emboldened Mr. Trump, if he were to be acquitted, which is likely, you know, he will feel vindicated and he will use his -- whatever power he has left to try to hold others to account, others, meaning, those who voted to impeach or those who voted to convict.
It's all backwards, obviously. You know, people were trying to hold the president to account for his horrible conduct and the president wants to hold Republican members to account for calling him out. That's what will happen. And the president, I suspect, even though he's the demonstrator, will attempt to maintain a high profile going into the midterm elections to influence the direction of the party. So I think it would be catastrophic.
BLITZER: We know, Mia, that Mr. Trump is ready to seek revenge on those Republicans who cross him. Is that fear going to determine the path forward, do you believe, for so many Republican politicians?
LOVE: I think that there is no doubt in my mind at all that the president is going to try to retaliate and Charlie is exactly right on this. The biggest problem we have with the impeachment hearing is that if the president gets off, he will feel vindicated. He has shown absolutely no remorse.
One of the things that Representative Ted Lieu said that I -- that resonated with me is that a person who feels bad or made a mistake shows some remorse, and the president has shown zero remorse.
This is -- again, it's a very difficult position for Republicans to be in. They are going to get retaliated against if they vote against him. And so that is what -- that's where you see the difficulty. That's where you see a senator saying, am I going to even be able to hold on to this seat. We barely lost the majority here so they're only one seat shy of being in the majority. So I think it's a very difficult position.
BLITZER: It certainly is. You know, Charlie, you have been having some discussions about potentially launching a new political party or at least a new faction of the GOP. How viable is that when even after the insurrection, former President Trump's approval rating among Republicans remains at, what, around 80 percent?
DENT: Yes, I participated in a forum last Friday with about 120 other Republicans leaders, some intellectual types and other former elected officials, who want a new direction for the party. Yes, there was talk of a new party. But, really, that's wasn't the main to focus. The main focus was maybe about a faction within the GOP or a faction that operates outside the GOP, to really have some kind of a counterforce.
We want there -- we want Americans to have an option here. If there's going to be election, say, between Mark Kelly in Arizona and Kelli Ward in Arizona, we like to have the ability to say, we're going to support Mark Kelly, that, you know, we believe that this party must move forward, not look backwards into the darkness.
We know that we don't want to return to this cronyism, this nihilism, this nativism, this ugly form of populism that we have seen during the Trump years. We think we need to rally around unifying principles like democracy, like honesty and truth. We believe that we should be talking about these types of issues, incremental change, all sorts of things that are common sense that a center right movement could easily embrace.
BLITZER: What do you think, Mia? Do you agree? Do you think there's room now, if not, for a new alternative to the GOP, at least a new faction within the existing GOP?
LOVE: I'm going to be very clear about this. I am not abdicating my position for Donald Trump. I believe in those same things that I have always believed in, free markets, personal responsibility, fiscal discipline. It would be a slap across the face to my parents who immigrated to this country to come in and be able to believe in less government, bigger people, for me to abdicate the things that we believe and the things -- the sacrifices they made to get me to where I am today and so many other people. I am not going to abdicate my position and I don't think anybody else should either. If somebody needs to go away it should be the president. The Party is not going anywhere.
BLITZER: All right, guys, thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, President Biden's vaccine announcement, this is really important, and his new plea for patience as he slams failures of the Trump administration.
Plus, new details emerging right now on those dramatic never before seen videos presented by House impeachment managers that showed just how close the former vice president of the United States was, as well as several lawmakers to the violent rioters.
BLITZER: Tonight, the second Trump impeachment trial is racing toward its conclusion with Democrats wrapping up their case today and defense arguments set to begin tomorrow. This as the current president of the United States is focusing in on the coronavirus crisis.
Let's go to the Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, President Biden made an important announcement today on vaccines. Tell us what he said.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Following that announcement last month, where they were trying to get more doses of the coronavirus vaccine, President Biden has confirmed today that they have actually signed the contracts to get an additional 200 million doses of the vaccine.
However, we should note that's not going to ready until much later this year. But President Biden did say that they believe by July they would have enough vaccines for all Americans to be able to get one. That doesn't actually mean all Americans will have one by then because, of course, the next problem they have to confront is the distribution and the actual vaccination process happening there.
But while he was speaking at the National Institutes of Health today, Wolf, President Biden was heavily critical of his predecessor saying that they completely misled them on what the state of vaccinations was going to be when they took office and when they took over from them, saying that they were misled on what that was going to look like.
And, of course, Wolf, this comes as President Biden has been trying to keep the focus on the pandemic but he is repeatedly being asked about the trial happening on Capitol Hill and even weighed in again today.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
COLLINS: President Biden predicting the grim new footage from his predecessor's impeachment trial could alter Republicans' opinions about whether to convict him.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think the Senate has a very important job to complete and I think my guess is some minds may have been changed but I don't know.
REPORTER: Do you think conviction is possible, Mr. President?
COLLINS: The president didn't answer that question, but a top aide said he was deeply affected by what he saw.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The footage was just a reminder of how shocked and saddened he was on the day this occurred. It was kind of reliving of that for many people who has spent as much time as he has in Congress.
COLLINS: Biden and the aides have insisted he isn't paying close to attention to the trial and is instead focused on the pandemic. At the National Institutes of Health today, Biden announced they have purchased an additional 200 million doses of vaccine which could be ready later this year. BIDEN: Just this afternoon, we signed final contracts for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines. We're now on track to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July.
COLLINS: Democrats are vowing the trial won't slow down his agenda.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): No, it is not slowing us down.
When I first became majority leader, they said you have three big task, president's cabinet, impeachment, COVID. We are on track with all three.
COLLINS: Meanwhile, the White House has facing criticism for adding fine print to this promise from the campaign trail.
BIDEN: We'll also do everything we can to keep our educators and students safe to safely re-open a majority of K through 8 schools by the end of the first 100 days.
COLLINS: The White House now says a majority means that where 50 percent of schools open one day a week, a definition the White House tried to clear up today after a prompted criticism from parents and teachers.
PSAKI: The president will not rest until every school is open five days a week. That is our goal. And we are going to listen to science and medical experts. The CDC guidelines, we expect them to come out tomorrow.
COLLINS: Meanwhile, President Biden spoke to Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time since taking office.
BIDEN: Last night, I was on the phone for two straight hours with Xi Jinping.
COLLINS: The White House said, Biden raised China's human rights abuses at home and aggressive policies abroad. And today, Biden included this warning as he called for more spending on infrastructure.
BIDEN: But, you know, they're going to -- we don't get move, they're going to eat our lunch. They are investing billions of dollars and dealing with a whole range of issues that relate to transportation, the environment and a whole range of things. We just have to step up.
COLLINS: Tonight, another policy reversal, this one involving a signature of the Trump era. Biden is canceling the national emergency at the southwest board calling it, quote, unwarranted and saying, his administration's policy is that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall.
COLLINS: Now, Wolf, all of these comes as we are learning new details tonight about just how dire former President Trump's condition was last October when he was diagnosed with coronavirus and taken to the hospital. The New York Times first reporting earlier that the president's condition was so severe that there was talk of putting him on a ventilator, that's because his blood oxygen levels were so low at points, they said that they were reported to be in the 80s. Of course, that is not we were hearing at the time. And they said that he had a lung issue that is associated with a pneumonia that you are often seeing in COVID-19 patients.
And, Wolf, what this really underscores is just how misleading White House officials at the time were being about what the president's condition was, that includes the president's personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, who was giving updates to reporters but not revealing a lot of information and certainly not revealing as much as we have learned. CNN has confirmed some of this, but first reported in The New York Times, about what his condition was really like and just how bad it was last October.
BLITZER: Kaitlan Collins doing an excellent reporting for us. Thank you very, very much.
Let's get some analysis from Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
What do you make of this report that the then-president was apparently in worse shape when he was taken to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center than his doctors and his other aides led us on to believe?
DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yeah. So, Wolf, thanks for having me on.
You know, it's really disturbing and it's disturbing because I felt like Dr. Conley at that time was clearly being evasive and deceptive. Look, I understand if you in a normal situation, you may not want to reveal a patient's detailed clinical history, but this is the president of the United States and the American people had a right to know about the situation at hand, and it would have been better if Dr. Conley and the White House had just been transparent and open with the American people as opposed to the stuff that we heard from them.
So, that, of course, was very disappointing and, of course, thank goodness that the president recovered. I mean, it would have been horrible thing for the country had the president gotten more ill or passed away. So, I'm thankful that that turned around but it's all very harrowing.
BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about some good news that President Biden announced today. The impact that these additional 200 million doses of the vaccines will be made available fairly soon -- this is really potentially very significant, right?
JHA: It is, Wolf. And, you know, I am very, very optimistic about where we will be with vaccines and vaccinations over once we get into let's say mid-spring, by May or June. I fully believe that sometime around April or May, we will be in a situation where any American who wants a vaccine can get one. That's going to be terrific. And today's announcement adds to those doses. Obviously, we also
expect J&J to come online if it goes through FDA authorization. So, I think the future for vaccinations is very, very bright.
BLITZER: J&J, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you only need one dose at least right now.
Dr. Jha, as usual, thank you so, so much.
Just ahead, as House impeachment managers are wrapping up the arguments, we take a closer look at the chilling new video they released showing the danger that rioters posed to the Vice President Mike Pence and several key lawmakers.
BLITZER: We're following new developments in the investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Five associates of the far-right extremist Proud Boys group have been arrested and charged with conspiracy for their roles in the deadly riot, and we are getting more details right now in the case that impeachment managers have made against former President Trump and the video and the audio that they played during the trial.
CNN's Brian Todd is joining us. He's got details.
Brian, tell us more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, many of these police video and police audio dispatch clips have never been seen or heard from before. They depict the desperate straits the police officers found themselves in almost immediately.
TODD (voice-over): From the first moments, capitol police suffered casualties.
OFFICER: Multiple capitol injuries, multiple capitol injuries.
TODD: From the first moments, police seemingly knew they could be overrun.
OFFICER: You got a group of about 50, charging up the Hill on the west front just north of the stairs. They're approaching the wall now.
TODD: Officers' voices calling for reinforcements, get more panicked, desperate.
OFFICER: They're throwing metal poles at us.
OFFICER: Cruiser 50, give me DSO up here now! DSO! Multiple law enforcement injuries! DSO get up here! TODD: Never before seen surveillance footage and audio clips of the January 6 assault on the capitol played at former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial by Democratic House impeachment managers drive home the brutality, the sheer terror of the attack. They showed footage of then Vice President Mike Pence being evacuated down a flight of stairs after hiding in a room near the Senate chamber with his family.
A "Washington Post" analysis found that rioters came within 100 feet of Pence at one point.
DEL. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI), IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: Extremists reportedly coordinated online and discuss how they could hunt down the vice president. Journalists in the Capitol reported they heard rioters say they were looking for Pence in order to execute him.
TODD: The impeachment managers played this footage of staffers for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scrambling to get into a conference room and shelter-in-place. They close an outer door, enter through an inner door and barricade it.
Just a few minutes later, rioters streamed down the hall, and one slams his shoulder into that same entrance three times. He broke through the outer door, managers said, but couldn't breach the inner door.
Managers played a cell phone call, a Pelosi aide whispering in the phone as rioters were at that door.
PELOSI AIDE: They're pounding on doors trying to find her.
TODD: Meanwhile, on police dispatch radio, officers were sounding more and more like they were on a battlefield, at war.
OFFICER: At least the scaffold we can defend. We got to hold what we hold.
TODD: And it became horribly clear they were losing that battle.
OFFICER: Cruiser 50, we've lost the line. We lost the line. All MPD pull back.
TODD: Footage showed then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and others reversing course and being rushed down the hallway. And Republican Senator Mitt Romney exiting the Senate chamber toward what he said was his hideaway. But heroic Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman quickly directs Romney back into the chamber, saying he'd be safer there.
Romney later said his family didn't understand how close he was to real danger and he credits Officer Goodman with saving him.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I was very fortunate indeed that Officer Goodman was there to get me in the right direction. TODD: Lawmakers were shown how close they came to rioters beyond the
hallway doors, to a rioter held at gunpoint on the floor or as they left the Senate chamber to a violent mob coming after them.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): As you were moving through that hallway, I paced it off. You were just 58 steps away from where the mob was amassing.
TODD (on camera): Impeachment Manager Eric Swalwell said right around that same moment, it was again Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman who encountered the mob and steered lawmakers away from that mob. That same Officer Goodman was the same officer who had steered Senator Mitt Romney to safety -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And we salute that police officer indeed.
All right. Brian, thank you very, very much.
And we'll have more news right after this.
BLITZER: Stay with CNN for complete coverage of the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. I'll be back tomorrow 11:00 a.m. Eastern to bring argument by the Trump defense team.
Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.