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State of the Union
Interview With George Conway; Defense Begins in Trump Impeachment Trial; Interview With Sen. James Lankford (R-OK); Interview With Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired January 26, 2020 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Trump's turn. The president's lawyers get their shot to try to save his presidency, deciding the best defense is a good offense.
PAT CIPOLLONE, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: They are asking you to tear up all of the ballots across this country.
TAPPER: What can we expect next?
Republican Senator James Lankford joins me in minutes.
And the prosecution rests. Democrats wrap up their case against President Trump with a plea for senators to hear more.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Give America a fair try. She is worth it.
TAPPER: Ahead of a pivotal vote to call more witnesses, did they convince key Republicans?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): President Trump's orders were clear.
TAPPER: We will talk with House impeachment manager Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren next.
Plus: homestretch. One week before Iowa Democrats vote, and Joe Biden's pitch is clear: This is no time to take a risk. But with Bernie Sanders making a late surge, do Iowa voters want something different?
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is wondering if four Republicans are going to vote for more evidence.
President Trump's lawyers now have the floor. And, tomorrow, they will continue to hammer away at the charges brought by House Democrats in roughly 20 hours of opening arguments.
On Saturday, the president's defense team argued he did -- quote -- "absolutely nothing wrong" and said Democrats were trying to overturn the will of the American people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CIPOLLONE: They're asking you to remove President Trump from the ballot in an election that's occurring in approximately nine months.
They're here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The president's lawyers promised that their arguments will be brief, which means the Senate could theoretically vote over whether to compel new witness testimony and new documents in just days.
If 51 senators vote no, the president could theoretically be acquitted by the end of this week.
Now, perhaps complicating that decision for senators is a tape just released by the lawyer of indicted businessman and Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas which shows that, despite the president's claims, he spoke with Parnas about Ukraine and the U.S. ambassador there whom President Trump later ousted.
And new this morning, President Trump is weighing in on the proceedings, suggesting on Twitter that the lead House Democrat could pay a price for impeachment, writing -- quote -- "Shifty Adam Schiff is a corrupt politician and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price yet for what he has done to our country" -- unquote.
Joining me now, Republican Senator from Oklahoma James Lankford.
Senator, thanks so much for being with us this morning.
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): Glad to be with you.
TAPPER: So, I mean, that tweet from the president, he said Schiff has not paid the price yet.
I mean, Adam Schiff has been getting death threats, sources tell me. Do you condemn what President Trump tweeted?
LANKFORD: Well, I -- I don't think the president's trying to be able to do a death threat here or do some sort of intimidation.
TAPPER: He has not paid the price yet?
LANKFORD: It's no different than what Adam Schiff and what Speaker Pelosi were saying, that -- that folks will be paying a price at the ballot box, or that they will pay a price for this in the future, or that people will hold them accountable for that.
So, I -- you look at both of them, I think, the same way. Both of them are saying, hey, the American people will speak on this. TAPPER: Well, what's interesting is, you were very offended, as were
other senators, from earlier -- from Friday night when Schiff, on the floor of the Senate, argued that -- well, he was quoting a CBS News report that had a confidant of President Trump saying that Republicans would pay a price, that it would be your heads on a stick.
And he was quoting the CBS News' report quoting of a Trump confident, but you were offended by that.
LANKFORD: So, the -- the offensive part there is, he was saying the president had communicated to us that our heads will be on a pike if we oppose him.
And all of us looked at each other and said, we have heard no such comment from the president. We felt no such pressure from the president. That -- that was the offensive part. It's not that he's quoting some unnamed source and some confidential whatever from CBS News on it.
It's that the implication was, we have all been sent a message.
And we all spoke to him pretty clearly to say, that's not true.
TAPPER: But Schiff was quoting a CBS News report. Why would you be -- why would you be mad at Schiff, as opposed to this Trump -- Trump confidant who said that this message had been conveyed to you?
LANKFORD: No, Schiff's -- Schiff's message was that this message had been passed onto us.
TAPPER: That's what the CBS News report was.
But Schiff is also saying, here's this unnamed story.
This is a sideshow in the whole thing. We were just offended, in that he's ending his closing arguments by saying, you will have to vote the way you are because the president is saying to you, I will put your head on a pike if we don't.
And we all know that's not true.
TAPPER: All right, I want to button this up.
But just what do you say to somebody who says, President Trump is saying that Adam Schiff needs to pay a price? This is in the midst of Adam Schiff getting death threats.
You're not offended by that. You think it's just like...
LANKFORD: No, I just don't think it's a death threat. I don't think he's encouraging a death threat. TAPPER: But people who are supporters of the president have heard his
rhetoric and then actually tried to bomb and kill politicians and the media. I mean, that's happened.
LANKFORD: Right. We have -- we have also had individuals go to up a baseball game...
TAPPER: Yes, horrible.
LANKFORD: ... and -- and shoot Republicans and walk up and say...
TAPPER: Awful. Completely -- I can completely..
LANKFORD: ... is this where the Republicans are? I'm going to go to fire at them.
LANKFORD: So -- so, to be able to say, the president's trying to be able to spur this on would be able to say Democrats were trying to spur on the killing of...
TAPPER: I guess I don't understand why you're offended at -- at what Adam Schiff said ...
LANKFORD: No, because I think it's political. I think what he's saying is political. What the president is saying is, he's going to be held to a price.
And I'm offended only because Adam Schiff believes that the only reason that we act the way that we do is because the president's going to put our head on a pike.
He's -- he's invalidating all of our motives. He's saying, you're going to ignore all the facts, and you're only doing this because we're afraid of the president, rather than, we will actually be fair in the process and actually look at the facts.
That was before we'd heard any of the facts from the White House team. The White House team has now, for the first time, had an opportunity to be able to cross-examine and bring out more detail on this...
TAPPER: OK, so let's talk about the case that they're presenting.
The deputy White House counsel said on the Senate floor just yesterday -- quote -- "There's simply no evidence anywhere that President Trump ever linked security assistance to any investigations" -- unquote.
But take a listen to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney saying the president did exactly that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: He also mentioned to me in the past that -- that the corruption related to the DNC server, absolutely, no question about that.
But that's it. That's why we held up the money.
QUESTION: But, to be clear, what you just described is a quid pro quo. It is, funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happened as well.
MULVANEY: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Does it bother at all that the Trump legal team told you and your colleagues in the Senate that there's no evidence that the aid was linked to any investigation, when the White House chief of staff has already admitted publicly that there was?
So, the first thing you say is, it's not linked to security assistance. And they definitely said that yesterday. And they detailed out how the White House did not connect this to security assistance.
TAPPER: But he was talking about security assistance.
LANKFORD: No, he wasn't talking -- he was talking about the investigation into the 2016 -- into the CrowdStrike piece, is what Mick Mulvaney was talking about.
TAPPER: Right, and that the security assistance was tied to carrying out that investigation. There are two investigations Trump was calling for.
Well, one -- one of them, he was calling for, one, that President Zelensky asked him about, and that he actually brought up, but that's splitting hairs to the whole conversation here.
In -- in the process there, they also talked about the -- in the phone call itself, the security assistance conversation was about Javelins, which were unconnected to this. And then the question is now this whole issue about 2016.
LANKFORD: Yes, they had a pause on that. And Mick Mulvaney clearly said that. And then I'm sure the White House team is going to walk through the next couple of days and be able to detail it.
TAPPER: But they already told you there's no evidence. And there is evidence. That's Mulvaney admitting that there was a link between the delay in the security assistance in exchange for the investigation into 2016.
TAPPER: That's -- that's a link.
LANKFORD: But the -- but the 2016 is not about the 2020 election.
I know this -- this sounds bizarre on this for me. I have been confused the entire time with the House managers trying to say, if the president's asking Ukraine for additional information about the 2016 election, then that must be interfering in the 2020 elections.
Never made sense to me. They never tried to be able to connect the dots well on that. The 2016 election and all that debate had just ended literally the day before that call happened. On the 24th of July is when the Mueller report came out. It was final.
Robert Mueller had done his statement to all of America through Congress to be able to read through all the report. It was closed.
The next day, the president's on the phone with President Zelensky and says, do us a favor. Basically, my intelligence folks are saying one thing about Ukrainian interference in the election. Rudy Giuliani and some other folks are saying another thing about interference in it. Do us a favor. Is this true? Can you do just check into it?
Doesn't seem to be interfering in the 2016 election. That seems to be settling an issue that's still unsettled.
TAPPER: Well, I think -- I think the argument is that the cloud of Russia helping President Trump in 2016 would be cleared, theoretically, if what Tom Bossert, the president's former homeland security adviser, has called a debunked conspiracy theory is proven correct.
TAPPER: So it would theoretically help him in 2020, because it would clear this cloud, if they could prove that Ukraine, not Russia, did it.
That's a pretty big line to be able to go, especially when something had already been put to bed...
TAPPER: But isn't that evidence?
LANKFORD: ... that -- that most definitely Russia was the one that was the primary factor in 2016.
LANKFORD: The president still seems to have this question about whether it was a Ukrainian -- the server was taken to Ukraine. I don't have a question on that. I don't think it's true on that.
But he still does. And he's hearing information from two different sides. He wants to get it cleared up. That doesn't affect anything, though, in the 2020 election.
TAPPER: But it's evidence that there was a link between the delay in the security assistance and a demand for investigations...
LANKFORD: It is...
TAPPER: ... I'm saying, which the Trump legal team argued does not exist. And we all saw it with our own eyes.
LANKFORD: OK. I -- I -- I will give you that, but I don't think that's a significant issue.
Also, in that clip, what they're not playing are the other things that were said before that as well, that Mick Mulvaney were saying, here all the other reasons.
LANKFORD: And, yes, the president had talked to me about this as well. Sure, that had been part of the conversation.
But that is not the sole reason...
TAPPER: Correct. Right.
LANKFORD: ... process on it.
And that's -- that was the biggest challenge that we had, is that, for three days, we heard one part of a sentence, but not the sentence before or the sentence after.
And the president's legal team said, OK, let's take this sentence they have said is strong evidence, and let's put it into context, what is before and after it, and you find out it's a whole different issue when you actually get it in context, like the whole issue about the White House visit.
In that phone call, President Zelensky says, hey, if we can't meet at the White House, why don't we meet September the 1st? And that -- actually, that meeting gets set up. The process starts immediately on it and gets set up.
But the House team was saying, if you get a -- if you don't get a White House visit, they don't want anything, that's all they want, except, in the same phone call, President Zelensky said, or we can meet over here, and they set that up.
TAPPER: I guess my only point is, that's one of many examples of the president's team saying things that are not true.
He also claimed -- Pat Cipollone said that House Republicans were not admitted into the SCIF for the depositions. I assume you have read at least some of the deposition transcripts.
LANKFORD: Sure. Sure. Yes.
TAPPER: And not only were Republicans in there. Some of the president's most ardent defenders, Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes, Stefanik, Zeldin, were there asking questions.
So, when he said that, that wasn't true also.
LANKFORD: No, he -- what he was really trying to say there is, there was no opportunity for the White House to cross-examine any of these individuals.
TAPPER: But that's not what he said.
LANKFORD: Both -- both -- both in the first two times, and then when it came to the third time, when they said the White House was actually invited, none of those actually -- those folks actually came to be cross-examined.
So the White House never had an opportunity to cross-examine any of these individuals.
TAPPER: All right.
An attorney for Lev Parnas, a Giuliani associate who was indicted under federal campaign finance crimes in October, released nearly 90 minutes of this secret recording from a 2018 dinner with President Trump.
Here's a quick clip.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How long would they last in a fight with Russia?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not very...
LEV PARNAS, INDICTED GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: I don't think very long. Without us not, very long.
TRUMP: Without us?
PARNAS: Without us.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: They go on to talk about the ouster of Ambassador Yovanovitch.
When asked about Parnas, President Trump said, "I don't know anything about him."
This proves that -- that's not true.
LANKFORD: Yes, this is a fund-raising dinner back in the spring of 2018 a year-and-a-half ago, where you -- the president literally takes a bunch of pictures. He walks in, sits down at a dinner.
It's a dinner, 25 people or so that have dinner, and then he leaves. I -- I don't see that as a...
TAPPER: It's a 90-minute recording.
LANKFORD: I understand that, but it's a dinner. It's -- it's 90 minutes over a dinner that he walks in and actually participates in this.
It's hard to be able to say to the president, who meets 1,000 people a day, OK, do you know this person that was at a dinner with you a year- and-a-half ago and to say you have a relationship?
So, again, it goes -- it's the same argument. People said, you had your picture made with him. And so that means it's a problem.
TAPPER: Well, that's more than a picture. That's a 90-minute conversation...
LANKFORD: I -- I -- I...
TAPPER: ... in which they call for the ouster of Yovanovitch, when -- they talk about whether or not Ukraine could defend against Russia.
LANKFORD: Sure, they did. Sure, they did.
There's a lot of things. He -- he talks about -- in that same tape, he -- he's also talking about Germany not paying their fair share...
LANKFORD: ... and taking care of...
TAPPER: My point is, the president didn't tell the truth. He lied. He said, he didn't know who this guy was. And here's a 90-minute conversation.
LANKFORD: So, what -- what I'm trying to say to you is the same thing you have.
If I went back and said, a year-and-a-half ago, I want to ask you about somebody that attended a dinner you were at, and was a part of a 20-person conversation, you could not name that person, because you wouldn't remember him.
Now, if they brought up a tape, you would go, OK, yes, I was there. I just don't remember that person because it was a year-and-a-half ago.
You meet a lot of people. I meet a lot of people. Certainly, the president meets a lot of people. And it's hard to be able to say, I know somebody that attended a fund-raising dinner, got a picture made, or attended a different time and got a picture, when you sure do meet a lot of -- a lot of people.
TAPPER: Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, thanks so much for being here.
TAPPER: We appreciate your being here.
The tense moment in the trial that Republican senators say offended them. Did Democrats hurt their chance with some key swing votes in the Senate?
Impeachment manager Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren will join me next.
And a brand-new CNN poll showing one candidate surging in New Hampshire, and it isn't the vice president.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
House Democrats wrapped up their case against President Trump with a call for a fair trial and a warning: Let him off the hook now, and he will do it again.
But some key Republican senators say, parts of Democrats' presentation alienated them.
Joining me now is one of the Democratic impeachment managers, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California.
Congresswoman, first, I just want to get your reaction to a tweet about one of your fellow California Democrats and House impeachment managers, Adam Schiff.
President Trump tweeting: "Shifty Adam Schiff is a corrupt politician and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price yet for what he has done to our country."
What's your reaction?
LOFGREN: Well, that's really unfortunate.
The president has a tendency to say things that seem threatening to people. She's going to go through some things. Adam Schiff is doing his job. He's going to pay a price.
I mean, he really ought to get a grip and be a little more presidential.
TAPPER: Take a listen to a tense moment from the House floor on Friday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: CBS News reported last night that a Trump confidant said that GOP senators were warned, vote against your president, vote against the president, and your head will be on a pike.
Now, I don't know if that's true. I hope it's not true. I hope it's not true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: You just heard Senator Lankford say that that offended him, because the implication was that they were afraid of President Trump.
There were other key swing votes, potential, such as Murkowski and Collins, who found it unnecessary and offensive. Even Senator Manchin, a Democrat, said he thought it crossed the line.
Was it a mistake for him to say that?
LOFGREN: Well, I don't know.
But, hopefully, the senators are not going to be letting a -- quoting a CBS report, which Adam himself didn't know if that was accurate, in making a decision for the country in whether the president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, I can't believe that the president -- the president's misbehavior would be ignored because of something like that.
TAPPER: Senator Collins and Murkowski have also both criticized Chairman Nadler, a fellow House impeachment manager, his suggestion that, if they don't vote for new witnesses and new documents, they will be participating in a cover-up.
Do you do you agree with that sentiment, that if they vote against new witnesses and testimony, they will participating in a cover-up?
LOFGREN: I think they should get new witnesses. And I said so on the Senate floor.
We tried to get witnesses, we were stonewalled. But here's the thing. The chief justice of the United States is presiding over this trial. If he signs a subpoena for a witness to come, we're going to get that witness. We're not going to be in court for three or four years. We're going to get that witness promptly.
And it's not for the House. It's for the senators to find out all the information, which I think they would want.
TAPPER: So, I noticed you did not say that you think, if they vote against it, it's a cover-up.
And I wonder, as somebody who clearly -- as somebody who's watched this now more than 20 hours' worth, you clearly have been mindful of your tone and respectful to the senators.
Do you think that Jerry -- Jerry Nadler should not have said that?
LOFGREN: Well, I never comment on other members' comments.
I do think that we have a great hope that the senators will do the duty that they are obliged to do, that they will take the oath that they took seriously, that they will do impartial justice. That's what our hope is.
And I think the country's fate is hanging on it.
TAPPER: What do you say to people who -- who argue that the message from House Democrats is contradictory, because you're saying we have overwhelming evidence that requires you to act to remove this president, and, at the same time -- at the same time, we really need more evidence, that there's an inherent contradiction there?
LOFGREN: Well, I don't think there is.
We have an overwhelming case. Take the meeting on July 10 with Mr. Bolton and the Ukrainians. That was the day that he said that there was going to be a hand grenade, the hand grenade, and the drug deal.
TAPPER: The comments from Bolton.
You know, Sondland was trying to make sure, was pressing, even then, Ukrainians to do these investigations of Biden. And that preceded the July 25 call.
Now, the president's lawyers are trying to say, well, there's nothing wrong here, nothing to see here on this call.
If -- it's obvious that there is. But if the senators have a concern about that, well, they could hear from Bolton.
TAPPER: If they want more information.
LOFGREN: And it's not for the House. It's not for the sake of the House. It's for the sake of getting to the truth in the trial.
TAPPER: Congresswoman, you -- you told senators this week -- quote -- "Don't surrender to the president's stonewalling" -- unquote.
TAPPER: But what do you say to those who say, that's what exactly what the House Democrats did by not going to court to try to force subpoenas and force witnesses?
LOFGREN: We did go to court, as you know.
TAPPER: But you didn't pursue it in court. You ultimately...
TAPPER: ... withdrew the cases and went to the Senate.
LOFGREN: ... we realized we had the evidence we were going to get, and that it was sufficient to prove our case.
TAPPER: But didn't you surrender to the president's stonewalling, in that sense?
LOFGREN: Well, in that -- I guess, in that sense, we did, because, if we had waited for three or four years, the election would be over. The issue would be almost moot.
If he is committing a high crime and misdemeanor now, and continuing to do it, we need to act.
Now, the McGahn subpoena -- we subpoenaed him last April, and we're not going to get an answer on that probably until next year.
TAPPER: There are four Republicans that you need, assuming all the Democrats vote for more evidence and more witnesses. You need four Republicans.
TAPPER: I know that Murkowski, Collins, and Mitt Romney have all suggested that they might vote for new witnesses, maybe.
Is there a fourth Republican somewhere that you have identified that House impeachment managers are hoping will vote that way? Is it Lamar Alexander? Who are -- who do you think...
LOFGREN: Well, I don't know.
I mean, as I speak and as I sit there, I find myself looking at the senators, a lot of them I served with when they -- when they were in the House, and wondering what's going through their minds as they hear this pretty overwhelming evidence from the House.
And then the president's folks coming in, really not disputing what we put together in our evidence, and wondering whether they might want to get a little more to nail this down.
I would hope that they would, because this is a very serious case. It's about whether the president is posing a threat to the United States. It's the impeachment clause of the Constitution. And I think the country wants a complete picture.
The senators have an opportunity to get it. And I think they would be doing themselves a favor, as well as the country of favor, to get that job done.
TAPPER: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who has been in involved in more impeachments in this country than any other human being...
TAPPER: ... I think it is -- worked -- you worked on the Nixon one.
LOFGREN: I did. I did.
TAPPER: And then, obviously, you were in the Congress for the Clinton one as well.
Thanks so much for being here this morning.
LOFGREN: Thank you very much.
TAPPER: We really appreciate it.
TAPPER: I know it's early for a Californian.
TAPPER: Coming up: A prominent conservative lawyer and spouse of a top Trump adviser says the president's lawyers are treating the American public and the Senate as if they're morons.
My interview with George Conway, that's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
My next guest has been there to countertweet President Trump nearly every step of his administration. And he comes from the right side of the aisle.
Earlier, I spoke with conservative attorney George Conway about his views on today's Republican Party and the opening moments of the president's impeachment trial this week.
TAPPER: Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, says he doesn't think there should be any witnesses and he's telling his caucus that he doesn't think that should happen at all.
GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE ATTORNEY: The Constitution says, Article I says that the Senate has the power to try, sole power and thus the obligation, to try all impeachments. It's their obligation to hear the evidence. And if there's evidence that's not in the record already, they should be going out and allowing the subpoena to be issued in the name of the chief justice of the United States for that evidence. That's what a trial is. That's what this is supposed to be for.
And their job is to hear the Evidence, to hear all of it. Not some of it or none of it, which seems to be the way they're going.
TAPPER: And what do you make of the fact that the Republicans have opted to take this stand of no new evidence, no new witnesses, at least at this point?
CONWAY: What are they afraid of? What are they afraid of? They're going to hear evidence they don't like? They must be afraid of something. And that's the thing that I find most disturbing about it, is they don't want to hear the evidence because they know the truth. They know he's guilty. And they don't want to hear the evidence because they don't want the American people to see it too.
TAPPER: Let me ask you a question, because you are a conservative attorney. You have been prominent in Republican legal circles for a long, long time. How do you feel when you see the Republican Party going against these basic rules that you consider to be important?
CONWAY: I'm deeply saddened. It's very upsetting. And this is a moment I think of reckoning. Not just for the country and for the rule of law and for the Constitution, it's a very specific day of reckoning for the Republican senators who took this oath and the Republican Party generally.
Are they going to stand for lies instead of truth? Are they going to stand for gaslighting instead of reality? Are they going to just do the bidding of this one man and put his interests over those of the country? That's what this is about.
TAPPER: But take a listen to what President Trump's defenders are saying, because they are basically saying what President Trump says publicly, which is it was a perfect call, check the transcript. Here is one of his attorneys --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL PURPURA, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY COUNSEL: You've seen the transcripts, which the president released transparently, unprecedentedly. There was no quid pro quo for anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: Just utterly and completely shameless in light of all of the evidence. And the notion that you can assert that the call, as the president has been doing, as perfect is crazy. And even the one -- one lawyer, the one law professor who defended the House Republicans' position before the House Judiciary Committee said this morning in an op-ed in "The Washington Post," there's no way you can say that call was perfect, and it wasn't.
And what you saw that lawyer just do is just ignoring the evidence, ignoring the call that David Holmes heard in the Kiev restaurant where --
TAPPER: Between Bill Clinton and Gordon Sondland.
CONWAY: You mean Donald Trump and Gordon Sondland.
TAPPER: I'm sorry, Donald Trump and Gordon Sondland, yes, sorry.
CONWAY: And where you could hear, and you can. I can personally attest you can hear Trump when he's on the phone with somebody sitting next to you.
TAPPER: He's got a big, booming voice.
CONWAY: Yes. And he says, are they going to do the investigations? That's all he cared about. And Holmes asked Sondland, well, does the president care about Ukraine? And, basically, he doesn't give a, expletive deleted, about Ukraine, Sondland said. He only cares about the big things, the things that affect him personally. And that's what this is about. That's what makes this offense, what he did, impeachable, is he wasn't concerned about the interests of the nation.
The interests of the nation were clearly in favor of letting that aid go unrestricted. He did it because it was a pressure point to get these guys in Ukraine to do his bidding to help him get re-elected.
TAPPER: You just alluded to the fact that you've heard President Trump on the phone, so let me just acknowledge to our viewers that, obviously, you are Kellyanne Conway's husband, she is a counselor to President Trump. And you've already said --
CONWAY: I don't think you have to be the spouse of a senior administration official to know that he's loud on the phone. I'm sure many, many people and CNN probably know that too.
TAPPER: Yes, of course. I can personally attest that's true. But I will also just say you've already made it clear that that is not a subject that you want to talk about so I'm not going to waste --
CONWAY: Not particularly.
TAPPER: I'm not going to waste --
CONWAY: I think my views about President Trump and his administration can stand on their own.
TAPPER: Right. I just want to make clear to our viewers, so that's why I'm not asking about it.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer raised the question, and it's actually one candidly that I've been thinking about for a while, which is if the Senate does what we assume the Senate is going to do and acquit President Trump of these charges, what does that mean in terms of the future and politicians asking foreign countries to investigate their rivals?
And let me also just say predicated on the idea that all of President Trump's defenders say that he really just wanted a legitimate investigation into corruption. There are legitimate questions to ask about the Kushners in China, about Trump Tower properties all over the world. I'm not saying they have done anything wrong but there are questions to ask. And a Democratic president, Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders, Biden, whoever, could say, okay, President Xi, you want to play? And like -- I mean, what does it mean --
CONWAY: My answer to that is what Gordon Sondland said to Holmes in a restaurant in Kiev, Trump only cares about things that affect him personally. And if this is allowed to pass, if a president is allowed to violate the law, as the GAO found, to withhold money for his own personal, political gain, then all bets are off with future presidents.
I hope that we never see one like this again, even though I agree with a lot of his policies. But where are the boundaries? The boundaries are gone. The constitution norm is gone if the Senate does don't the right thing here.
TAPPER: New polling, new endorsements, new attacks and all of the latest in the Democratic primaries and caucuses as one candidate surges ahead in the early states with just one week to Iowa. That is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT CIPOLLONE, WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: We don't believe that they have come anywhere close to meeting their burden for what they are asking you to do. You will find that the president did absolutely nothing wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: White House counsel Pat Cipollone laying out the defense team's core argument during a shorter impeachment trial session on Saturday. They defense will continue its presentation starting tomorrow. Let's discuss.
And let me start with one of the jurors/judges we have here, Senator Tina Smith, Democrat of Minnesota. What do you make of this preview of the defense's case, the president did absolutely nothing wrong?
SEN. TINA SMITH (D-MN): Well, I think that after watching three days of really thorough and compelling presentation of the evidence and the facts to have the White House lawyers really pretty much do what Manager Schiff said that they would do which is to come in and complain about the progress.
There was this funny point when the guy goes, the whistle-blower again and really not try to refute the fundamental issues that were raised by the House. I mean, we all thought fundamentally the question was that their argument really made the point that we do need to hear from these witnesses, and we do need to see these documents. I think they made that case for us yesterday.
TAPPER: There's something that Senator Manchin who's kind of obviously one of the swing votes on the Democratic side said which was that he thought that they made a strong argument, but it also made him want to hear from people like Mick Mulvaney or John Bolton.
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that there are several things that happened in that trial or the hearings that make that -- made it so that Republicans felt like they couldn't move over.
If you will notice that the entire Democratic strategy hinges on getting Republicans to go over and vote with the Democrats. But there are several arguments. One is they are trying to move the president off the ballot nine months away from an election. The other one is senators getting offended by comments that were made by colleagues and other members of Congress.
So, Nadler offended a lot of the swing Republicans that they were trying to shift over, get over. Schiff offended some of the senators that they are trying to get over also. So, it is not working, it's not moving anybody. As a matter of fact, to get -- to get all of these criticisms by another member of Congress is actually move them in the other direction I think.
TAPPER: --- I don't think you buy that. I don't think you think that they were offended.
WAJAHAT ALI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: This is the most violent smallest plane (ph) for those people are offended, right? Especially as Donald Trump -- today, about an hour ago, tweets out like a cheap third-rate gangster against Adam Schiff. What did he say? Is that he's going to --
TAPPER: He has not yet paid a price.
ALI: He has not yet paid a price, and the same man in the July 25th phone call who told Marie Yovanovitch, she's going to get what is coming to her. And the same guy in the Lev Parnas phone call who said, take her out. And so now these Republicans are so offended by Adam Schiff merely bringing up a news report that they will not go with 70 percent of Americans and actually call witnesses to a trial because all Americans, you don't have to go to law school like me, know that a trial has to have witnesses. If you've seen "Ally McBeal" or "Law & Order" what type of trial does not have witnesses?
And I'll say this there's 51 percent of Americans who want Trump impeached and removed. That's a stunning number. The highest mark for Nixon was 57 percent even without "FOX News." If he has nothing to hide, he has nothing to lose by bringing witnesses. All you need is four Republicans to do their job and you won't even get four.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I love Wajahat's animation. It's super animated obviously. And you can be --
TAPPER: It is not a Brando imitation.
URBAN: I love -- I love his animation.
ALI: You like the impression of "The Godfather"?
URBAN: You can keep -- you can keep hoping as much as you say it's not going to happen, right? It's just not going to happen. You're not going to get those four. You heard Zoe Lofgren and you dropped a bombshell basically. She said -- she admitted it. Yes, we kind of gave up on trying to get the witnesses. Right? You heard her say that. Like we -- we just - we just --
TAPPER: Surrendered to the president's stonewalling.
URBAN: But now all of the sudden we need witnesses again, right? And you have this -- you have this -- you have this dichotomy where the House managers say, we have this compelling case, this overwhelming testimony, but we need more.
We still need more. We --
TAPPER: Is that not -- is that not a contradiction, Senator?
URBAN: It is a terrible contradiction.
SMITH: No. I think it's just absolutely not a contradiction. And first of all let me just say that --
URBAN: How? SMITH: Let me say that I do not believe that my colleagues are going to go, oh, my feelings were hurt by something that Adam Schiff said, so therefore, I'm going to forget what my constitutional --
LOVE: They do get offended by the fact that somebody suggesting that they can't do their job because the president is saying something
SMITH: But I believe --
LOVE: That is what the offense is.
TAPPER: Let's listen to the senator first.
SMITH: No. But I believe that they are going to be able to look at all of the information and make a decision for themselves.
And the question that you are raising is, is it not a contradiction to say that on the one hand we, you know, we don't need more information -- we don't need more facts and more data? I mean, that's the purpose of the Senate trial. Not a single Senate impeachment on any topic has never had include witnesses --
URBAN: But they have overwhelming -- it's a perfect case.
ALI: There's two articles of impeachment. There's two articles of impeachment. The second one is obstruction of Congress because he stonewalled everything. Trump stonewalled witnesses. He stonewalled evidence. Now you've got John Bolton saying, hey, Senate if you want to sell some books --
ALI: -- John Bolton.
URBAN: You heard Zoe Lofgren say, we gave up. We gave up.
ALI: Why are the Republicans giving up when they have a majority in the Senate? If the Democrats gave up you can call witnesses right now. And also, why are you not offended by the Trump's abuse of power?
ALI: Why are you not offended by Trump's abuse of power?
LOVE: Everyone is defending on Republicans going over and changing their minds. I have not heard one Democrat saying, hey, by the way, I'm going to look at the evidence objectively. And I may vote with Republicans also.
ALI: The Russian conspiracy theory --
LOVE: It's all (INAUDIBLE) on one shift.
(CROSSTALK) SMITH: I mean, I have said consistently and constantly that I held up my right hand to swear impartial justice, and that's what I believe that I have to do. But why would you then argue that you don't want to see more information?
Think of what about Lindsey Graham said in 1999, I want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I think that that's the least that we can expect of this trial.
TAPPER: Would it not be better for President Trump if there was a more thorough, more vigorous trial that Democrats would not be able to call a cover-up?
URBAN: Listen --
TAPPER: You know what I'm saying? Like if he's acquitted after a trial with more --
URBAN: Listen -- listen. Ultimately again, right, everybody acknowledges this is not a -- this isn't a court procedure. The criminal, the civil rules of a procedure don't apply here. This is a political process. Politics. Don't -- no one around this table doesn't know that, right? And so that is what this is all about at the end of the day, process, political process.
And Mia makes the point correctly and Pat Cipollone made it yesterday very forcefully what Adam Schiff is trying to here is take this president, to undo the past election, and take this president off the ballot for the next election because he said which I thought quite insulting, we can't trust the American people to do the right thing. That is ultimately --
TAPPER: I don't think -- I don't think he said that. I don't think he said that. He said that, you can't trust President Trump not to cheat.
URBAN: No, no, no. He said, you can't trust this election is not going to go -- go back and watch it. You can't trust the American people aren't going to do this again. Are going to put back in power --
TAPPER: No, no. That President Trump isn't going to do it again.
SMITH: President Trump won't do it again.
ALI: Why are Republicans OK with the president of the United States of America asking a foreign country to interfere in U.S. elections?
LOVE: Wait. No, no, no. First of all, no one --
ALI: Or bribing them or --
LOVE: As a matter of fact, I said -- I've said that it was not --
ALI: Why are you defending that?
LOVE: Wait. No, no, no. Wait a minute. Stop.
TAPPER: We only have -- you have the last word.
LOVE: Stop. I've actually said that the phone call was not perfect. I've actually gone out and I've said that over and over again. Do I think it's impeachable? Do I think that the evidence that has been provided, the whole process in the House of Representatives? Absolutely not. I do not think it's --
TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here. Appreciate it. Good luck on the Senate floor with your decision, Senator, and everything else going on.
SMITH: Thank you very much.
TAPPER: Coming up next, it would be a loss at any time, but especially now at a time when the truth is trampled. We will pay tribute to Jim Lehrer. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back. A friend of ours and a giant in journalism legendary broadcaster Jim Lehrer died this week at age 85. After proudly serving his country as a marine Lehrer became a newspaperman and then one of the nation's most trusted broadcasters. His reputation for fairness and impartiality leading him to moderate a dozen presidential debates. His broadcast on PBS now known as the "NewsHour" was founded during PBS's gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Nixon impeachment and it stands as a testament to his journalistic philosophy.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JIM LEHRER, FORMER PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR: Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me. Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story. Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That kind of faith in and respect for viewers is sadly lacking in much of today's discourse, including by broadcasters who see dollars in appealing to the hatred some Americans have for other Americans, who exhibit the opposite of Lehrer's care in coverage of their subjects and Lehrer's respect for his viewers. None of which is to suggest, however, that Mr. Lehrer didn't see the special challenges of this era for journalists and how some of the long-standing divisions in the United States are being exacerbated by lies, including those pushed by the president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEHRER: How do you deal with a division that is based on things that are considered lies?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: Right.
LEHRER: And how do you report lies in a straightforward way that doesn't also put you on one side or the other of the division?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Jim Lehrer understood that respect for you and fairness for those about whom we report in this era of misinformation and gaslighting requires us to make clear what is true and what is a lie. And Jim also knew that an era filled with falsehoods poses challenges for us in journalism. We can only hope that we're rising to the challenge and following his example.
Our deepest condolences to Jim Lehrer's family and coworkers and friends. We will miss him.
Thank you for spending your Sunday with us.
"FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS" starts next.