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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Rep. Adam Schiff Wraps Up Democrats' Case Against President Trump; Trump's Lawyers Begin Their Defense Tomorrow. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired January 24, 2020 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
But do not mistake for a moment the fact that it was simple and it -- and quick to present that course of conduct compared with a sophisticated campaign to coerce Ukraine into thinking that that second article is any less significant than the first. Do not believe that for a moment.
If there is no Article II, let me tell you something, there will never be an Article 1. If there's no Article II, there will never, of any kind, or shape or form be in Article 1. And why is that? Because if you and we elect the power to investigate a president, there will never be in Article I whether that Article I is abuse of power or that Article I is treason or that article one is bribery, there will never be in Article I if the Congress can't investigate an impeachable offense.
If the Congress cannot, because the president prevents it, investigate the President's own wrongdoing, there will never be in Article 1 because there will be no more impeachment power. It will be gone. It will be gone.
As I said before, our relationship with Ukraine will survive. God willing, our relationship with Ukraine will survive and Ukraine will prosper and we will get beyond this ugly chapter of our history. But if we are to decide here that a President of United States can simply say under Article II I can do whatever I want and I don't have to treat a coequal branch of government like it exists.
I don't have to give it any more than the back of my hand. That will be an unending injury to this country. Ukraine will survive and so will we, but that will be an unending injury to this country because the balance of power that are found or set out will never be the same, will never be the same. The president can simply say I'm going to fight all subpoenas.
And I'll tell you something else, truism in the courts is just as true here in the Senate where they say justice delayed is justice denied. You give this president or any other the unilateral power to delay as long as he or she likes to litigate matters for years and years in the courts and do not fool yourself into thinking it is anything less.
In April, it will be a year since we subpoenaed Don McGahn and there is no sign of an end to that case. And I'll tell you, when it gets to the Supreme Court, you might think that's the end and that's just the end of the first chapter because Don McGann is in court saying I'm absolutely immune from testimony.
Now, that's been rejected by every court that's looked at it. But we'll see what the Court of Appeals says and then we'll see if it goes to an en banc Court of Appeals and then we'll see what the Supreme Court says. And when we prevail in the Supreme Court, you know what happens? That's not the end of the matter. It comes back to the trial court and then -- well, they can't claim absolute immunity more. They can't claim it. I we don't even have to bother showing up.
So, now we're going to turn to Plan B, executive privilege. We're going to say we can't and won't answer any of the questions that are really pertinent to your impeachment inquiry and let's start out in district court. And then go to the court of appeals and then go en banc and then go to the Supreme Court.
You can game the system for years. Justice delayed is justice denied. And so is true about presidential accountability. So, when you suggest or I suggest or anyone suggest or the White House suggest, why doesn't the Congress -- why didn't the House just exhaust their remedies as if in the Constitution where it says the House shall have the sole power of impeachment is an asterisk that says after exhausting all court remedies and for seeking court in the district court and seeking relief in the Court of Appeals and after that going to the Supreme Court.
Let's not kid ourselves about what that really means. What that really means is you allow the president to control the timing of his own impeachment or if it will ever be permitted to come before this body. That is not impeachment power, that is the absence of an impeachment power.
Article II is every bit as important as Article I. Without Article II, there is no Article I ever again, no matter how egregious this president's conduct or any of it. It is fundamental to the separation of powers.
If you can't have the ability to enforce an impeachment power, you might as well not put it in the Constitution. Now, shortly, the president's lawyers will have a chance to make their presentation and as we will not have the ability to respond to what they say, I want to give you a little preview of what I think they're going to have in store for you so that when you hear it, you can put it into some perspective.
I expect that they will attack the process. I don't think that's any mystery. But I want to tell you both what I expect they will share with you and what it really means. When you cut through all the chaff, what does it really mean that they're saying?
So, here's what I expect that they will tell you. The process was so unfair. It was the most unfair in the history of the world. Because at the House, they took depositions. How dare they take depositions? How dare they listen to Trey Gowdy? How dare they follow the Republican procedures that preceded their investigation? How dare they? And they were so secret in the bunker in the basement as if whether it's on the ground floor or the basement of the first floor makes any difference. Those super-secret depositions in which only 100 members of Congress equivalent to the entire Senate could participate. That's how secret they were. That's how exclusive they were. Every Democrat, every Republican on three committees could participate.
Of course, that wasn't enough, so you had even more storm to skiff. Right? So, you have 100 people that can participate but you heard earlier, but the republicans weren't allowed to participate. OK, that's just false.
You know how we did it in those super-secret depositions? And you could look this up yourself because we released the transcripts, we got an hour, they got an hour. We got 45 minutes, they got 45 minutes. And we did that back and forth until everyone was done asking their questions.
Now, you hear, Chairman Schiff was so unfair, he wouldn't allow us to ask our questions. Well, there were certain questions I didn't allow. Questions like who is the whistleblower? Because we want to punish that whistleblower. Because, yes, some of us in this House and this House believe we ought to protect whistleblowers.
So, yes, I did not allow the outing of the whistleblower. So, when they say the chairman wouldn't allow certain questions, that's what they be. That means that we protect people have the courage to come forward and blow the whistle, that we don't think, though the president might, that they're traders and spies.
To believe that someone who blows the whistle on misconduct of the serious nature that you now know took place is a traitor or spy there is only one way you can come to that conclusion and that is if you believe you are the state and that anything that contradicts you is treason. That is the only way that you can conceive of someone who exposes wrongdoing is a traitor or a spy. But that is exactly how this president views those who exposes wrongdoing because he is the state. Like any good monarch, is the state.
And you'll hear the president wasn't allowed to participate in the Judiciary Committee. Well, that's false, too, as you've heard. The president had the same rights in our proceedings as President Nixon and President Clinton. But nonetheless, you'll hear it was so unfair.
And one other thing that was really unfair is the subpoenas were invalid because the House didn't pass a resolution announcing its impeachment inquiry. Never mind that we actually did. The problem was they said, well, we hadn't and then we did and then the problem was, well, you did.
Now, of course, as you know, the constitution says the House will have the sole power of impeachment. If we want to do it by House resolution, we can do it by House resolution. If you want to do it by committee, we can do it by committee. It is not the president's place to tell us how to conduct an impeachment proceeding any more than it is the president's place to tell you how you should try it.
So, when you see that eight-page diatribe from the White House counsel saying we should have been able to have a resolution in the House or we should have been able to have this, what you should hear, what they really mean is Donald Trump had the right to control his own impeachment proceeding and it's an outrage that Donald Trump didn't get to write the rules of his own impeachment proceeding in the House.
You give a president that right there is no impeachment power. But when you hear them say that, when you hear them complain about depositions that were the same as the Republicans or the right to participate that was the same in Clinton and Nixon. And by the way, they weren't allowed to call witnesses, they said. Well, three of the 12 witnesses that we heard in our open hearings were the minority witness request.
So, you'll hear those arguments, the most unfair in history. The fact is, we had the same process and those other impeachments, the majority did not surrender its subpoena power to the minority, you know what it did? It said you can subpoena witnesses and if the majority doesn't agree, you can force a vote. That is the same process we had here.
The majority does not surrender its subpoena power, didn't in the prior impeachments, didn't in this one. When they say the process was unfair, what they really mean is don't look at what the president did. For God's sake, don't look at what the president did.
Now, you'll also hear, I think, the second thing you'll hear from the President's team is attack the managers. Those managers are just awful. They're terrible people especially that Schiff guy. He's the worst. He's the worst.
And Exhibit A, he mocked the president. He mocked the president. He mocked the president as if he was just shaking down a leader of another country, like he was an organized crime figure.
He mocked the president. He said it was like the president said listen, Zelensky, because I've only got to say this seven times. Well, I discovered something very significant by mocking the president and that is for a man who loves to mock others, he does not like to be mocked.
So, turns out, he's got a pretty thin skin. Who would've thought it? Never mind that I said I wasn't using his words before I said it and I wasn't using his words after I said and I said I was making a parody of his words, it's an outrage. He mocked the president. That Schiff, terrible.
Now, they will attack my other colleagues too for things said in the heat of here on the floor because we're reaching the wee hours of the morning. And they'll attack some of my colleagues who aren't even in this chamber. Maybe they'll attack the squad. That's a perennial favorite with the president.
They attack the squad, you should ask what does that have to do with the price of beans ph? But you can expect attacks on all kinds of members of the House that have nothing to do with the issues before you.
And when you hear those attacks, you should ask yourself away from what do they want to distract my attention because nine times out of 10, it will be the president's misconduct. But look for it, attacks on the managers, attacks on other House members, attacks on the speaker, attacks on who knows what? It's all of the same ilk.
Whatever you do, just don't consider the president's misconduct. You'll also here attacks on the Constitution. Of course, it won't be framed as an attack on the Constitution, but that's really what it represents.
And that is abuse of power doesn't violate the Constitution. Presidents of United States have every right to abuse their power. That's the argument.
OK. I know it's a hard argument to make, right? Presidents have a constitutional right to abuse their power and how dare the House of Representatives charge a president with abusing his power?
Now, I'm looking forward to that constitutional argument by Alan Dershowithz because I want to know why abusing power and trust is not impeachable now but it was a few years ago because the last time I checked, I don't think there was significant change to the Constitution between the time he said it was impeachable and the time he's saying now that, apparently, it is not impeachable.
So, I'm looking forward to that argument.
But I'm also looking to Ken Starr's presentation because during the Clinton impeachment, he maintained that a president not only could but must be impeached for obstructing justice. That Clinton, Bill Clinton needed to be impeached because he lied under oath about sex. And to do so, obstructed justice.
You can be impeached for obstructing justice but you cannot be impeached for obstructing Congress. Now, I have to confess, I don't know exactly how that's supposed to work because the logical conclusion from that is Ken Starr is saying that Bill Clinton's mistake was in showing up under subpoena.
That Bill Clinton's mistake was not saying I'm going to fight all subpoenas, that Bill Clinton's mistake was in not taking the position that under Article II, he could do whatever he wanted. Does that really make any sense?
You can be impeached for obstructing your own branch of government cannot be impeached for obstructing a coequal branch of government. That would make no sense to the framers. I have to think over the centuries, as they watched us, they would be astonished that anyone would take that argument seriously or console misapprehend how this balance of power is supposed to work. So, I look forward to that argument.
And maybe, when they make that argument, they can explain to us why their position on abuse of power isn't even supported by their own attorney general. So, I hope they will answer why even their own Atty. Gen. doesn't agree with that. Not to not to mention, by the way, the constitutional law expert called by the Republicans in the House who also testified as to abuse of power but it is impeachable, that you don't need a crime. It's impeachable,
Now, when you hear them make these arguments, you cannot be impeached for abusing your power. This is what it really means, we cannot defend his conduct. And so, we want to make it go all the way without even having to think about that. You don't even need to think about what the president did because the House charged it wrong.
And so, don't even consider what the president did. That's what that argument means. We can't defend the indefensible, so we have to fall back on even if he abused his office, even if he did all the things he's accused of, that's perfectly fine. There's nothing that can be done about it.
Now, you'll also hear, as part of the defense and you heard this from Jay Sekulow, it was the, I think, the last thing he said. The whistleblower. And then he stepped back to the table. The whistleblower.
Now, I don't really know what that meant. But I suspect you'll hear more of that, the whistleblower. The whistleblower. It's his or her fault that we're here. The whistleblower.
I would encourage you to read the whistleblower complaint again. When you read that complaint again, you will see just how remarkably accurate it is. It's astonishingly accurate.
For all the times the president is out there saying that the complaint was all wrong, it was all wrong.
You read it now that you have heard the evidence, you read it and you will see how remarkably right the whistleblower got it.
Now, when that complaint was filed, so obviously before we had our depositions and had our hearings, all of which obviated the need for the whistleblower. In the beginning, we wanted the whistleblower to come and testify because all we knew about was the complaint.
But then we were able to hear from first-hand witnesses about what happened. And then something else happened. The president and his allies began threatening the whistleblower and the life of the whistleblower was at risk and what was the point in exposing that whistleblower to the risk of his or her life when we have the evidence we needed? What was the point?
Except retribution. Retribution and the president wants it still. You know why the president is mad at the whistleblower? Because but for the whistleblower, he would've been caught. And that is an unforgivable sin. He is the state. And but for the whistleblower, the president wouldn't have been caught. For that, he's a spy and he's guilty of treason.
Now, what does he add to this? Nothing but retribution, a pound of flesh. You'll also hear the president's defense, they hate the president. They hate the president. You should not consider the president's misconduct because they hate the president.
Now, what I've said, I leave you to your own judgments about the president. I only hate was he's done to this country. I grieve for what he's done to this country.
But when they make the argument to you that this is only happening because they hate the president, it is just another of the myriad forms of, please, do not consider what the president did. Whether you like the president or you dislike the president is immaterial. It's all about the Constitution and his misconduct.
If it meets the standard of impeachable conduct as we have proof, it doesn't matter whether you like it. It doesn't matter whether you dislike it. what matters is whether he is a danger to the country because he would do it again. And none of us can have confidence based on his record that he will not do it again because he is telling us every day that he will.
Now, you'll hear the further defense that Biden is corrupt, that Joe Biden is corrupt, that Hunter Biden is corrupt. This is their defense. This will be another defense because what they hope to achieve in the senate trial is what they couldn't achieve through their scheme. If they could get Ukraine to smear the Bidens, they want to use this trial to do it instead.
So, let's call Hunter Biden. Let's smear the Bidens. Let's succeed in the trial with what we couldn't do with this scheme. That's the goal.
Now, I don't know whether Rudy Giuliani who said he was going to present his report to some of the Senators has presented his report. Maybe he has. Maybe you'll get to see what's in Rudy Giuliani's report.
Maybe you'll get to see some documents smearing the Bidens produced by who knows? Maybe the same Russian corrupt former prosecutors. But make no mistake about what that's about. It's about completing the object of the scheme through other means, through the means of this trial.
You may hear the argument that what the president is doing when he is obstructing Congress is
protecting the office for future presidents because there is nothing more important to Donald Trump than protecting the office of the presidency for future presidents. And I suppose when he withheld military aid from Ukraine, he was trying to protect future presidents.
And when he sought to course a foreign power to intervene in our election, he was doing it on behalf of future presidents, because future presidents might likewise wish to cheat in further election. I don't think that argument goes very far. But I expect you'll hear it. I expect you'll hear it.
You may hear an argument that the president was really concerned about corruption and he was concerned about burden-sharing. I won't spend much time on that because you've heard the evidence on that. There is no indication that this had anything to do with corruption in every -- every bit of evidence that had nothing to do with fighting corruption or burden sharing, indeed, nothing about the burden changed between the time he froze the aid and the time he released the aid.
There was no new effort to get others to contribute more and Europe contributes a great deal as it is. This is an after-the-fact rationalization. You probably saw the public reporting that there was exhaustive effort after-the-fact to come up with a post-talk rationalization for this scheme I would like to show you the product of investigation but I'll need your help because it is among the documents they refused to turn over.
They will show you just what an after-the-fact invention this argument is. Now, I expect you'll hear the argument, Obama did it. Obama did it. Now, that may take several different forms but the form of Obama did it that I'm referring to is Obama also withheld aid.
Honestly, I think that argument is an insult to our intelligence because the argument is Obama withheld aid from Egypt and he made a condition with it. Obama withheld aid from Egypt after they had revolution and circumstances change and you know something? He denied it from Congress. In fact,Congress supported it.
And, yes, there are times when we hold aid for a good policy reason, not a corrupt effort to get help in your election. The American people know the difference between right and wrong. They can recognize the difference between a that is withheld for a malicious purpose and aid that is held in the best interest of our national security. But you'll hear the Obama did it argument.
You will hear the call was perfect. You'll hear the call was perfect. Now, I suspect the reason they will make the argument the call was perfect is because the president insists that they do. I don't think they really want to have to make that argument. You wouldn't either. But they have a client to represent and so they will make the argument the call was perfect.
And they will also make the argument Ukraine thinks the call was perfect. Ukraine says there was no pressure. What that really means is Ukraine wants a future, Ukraine knows it still beholden to us for aid, Ukraine still hasn't gotten in through the door of the White House, Ukraine knows that if they acknowledged that they were shaken down by the president of the United States, the President of United States will make them pay.
So, when you hear them say Ukraine felt no pressure and their proof is because the Ukraine president doesn't want to call the president of the United States a bad name, you'll know why. Because they need America. They need America.
The framers did not expect you to leave your common sense at the door.
America. They need America. The framers did not expect you to leave your commonsense at the door.
Now, you'll also hear the defense. The President said there was no quid pro quo. The President said there was no quid pro quo. I guess that's the end of the story.
They knew the overwhelming majority of the documents and witness testimony, there was no even colorable claim of privilege. So they didn't want to even invoke it. All they would say is, maybe someday. But you will hear that you can't be impeached for a claim of privilege they never made.
So what do all these defenses mean? What do they mean? What do they mean "collectively" when you add them all up? What they mean is under Article II, the President can do whatever he wants. That's really it. That's really it.
Certainly, you can't really learn, I think, about war without going to war. And maybe there are things you just can't learn about life without going to war. So those of you that have served have the most complete education I think there is.
But even so, is moral courage really more rare than that on a battlefield?
And then I saw what Robert Kennedy meant by moral courage. "Few," he said, "are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, and the wrath of their society."
Some say that the Nixon impeachment might not have moved forward were it not for those four courageous Republicans led by Congressman Railsback.
[20:45:00] And it pained the Congressman because he credited Nixon with giving
him his seat, with getting him elected. He did it because he said - because "seeing all the evidence, it was something we had to do because the evidence was there."
I think he was the most interesting President in history. He may be the most interesting person in our history. This man who started out dirt-poor - dirt-poor. Like hundreds of thousands of other people at that time, he had nothing. No money, no education. He educated himself. Educated himself.
But he had a brain in that head, a brilliance in that mind that made him one of the most incredible not just presidents but people in history. I think he's the most interesting character in our history.
And so I ask you, I implore you, give America a fair trial. Give America a fair trial. She's worth it. Thank you.
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: The majority leader is recognized.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Mr. Chief Justice, I ask unanimous consent that the trial adjourn until 10:00 a.m., Saturday, January 25th. And this order will also constitute the adjournment of the Senate.
ROBERTS: Without objection, so ordered. The Senate is adjourned.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: --you have it. The Democrats have rested their case. Lead Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff just wrapped up three days of opening arguments on the Senate floor. These were his final words and Democrats' final words before the President's defenders have their say starting tomorrow morning.
Although Chairman Schiff and his colleagues focused heavily today on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress, his remarks encompassed the full sweep of the case against the President.
He also provided his own preview of what the defense arguments might be and his own take on it, his rebuttal, if you will.
He closed with an appeal to principles over partisanship. CNN's Manu Raju is inside the Senate Chamber. We have to take his take momentarily on what it was like as senators watched and listened to it all.
Joining us now are our political and legal team, Elliot Williams, Amanda Carpenter, Kirsten Powers, and Scott Jennings.
Kirsten Powers, what did you think of his closing remarks?
KIRSTEN POWERS, USA TODAY COLUMNIST & CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they were - he was really trying to appeal to the sense of history, of the importance of this moment, and trying to appeal to the senators to move beyond partisanship, because really partisanship and loyalty to Trump is driving a lot of this process.
And we've had a lot of conversations here that we already know what's going to happen. And I think he was sort of taking one last run at them in saying, really step back and consider what this means and what your legacy is. And throughout the day, they were talking about that as well.
If we say that Donald Trump can do this, then this could happen to you. This could happen - you know, think about that. What if this was to happen to you? What if he was to decide he wanted to have an investigation into you? What if he was to decide to treat you the way he treated Marie Yovanovitch? And so I think there was, like I said, an attempt to get them to think about this in the sort of broader way.
COOPER: I do want to quickly go to Manu Raju. He's just made his way out of the Senate Chamber. He joins now.
Manu, is the House wrapping up their oral arguments? I'm wondering what it was like inside that room.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you could hear a pin drop. It was silent for some time as the things got - at moments, things got kind of tense. In the one moment, in particular, when Adam Schiff referred to a report by a separate news outlet saying that the President, the White House had warned the Republican senators that their heads would be on a pike if they were to cross the President on this issue.
Now, when he said that, a number of Republican senators objected audibly, including Susan Collins of Maine, who of course is a key swing vote in the Senate, someone who is weighing voting for subpoenas for some of these key witnesses. She shook her head and said - she said, "No - no, they didn't. That's not true. That's not true." That's what she said repeatedly.
Others also said that - Jim Risch, the Idaho Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was - we could hear him saying, "No, that's not true at all." Also, Tom Cotton also laughed when that comment was made.
And other points too when Adam Schiff tried to make comments that were - the Democrats found humorous, the Republicans did not, including talking about the President's defense. At one point, he talked about how the President said - talking about how the President said no quid pro quo and not to take that at face value comparing it to when a defendant said he didn't do it, he couldn't have done it. That's what Adam Schiff said. When Schiff said that, Democrats were laughing about that.
Republicans, hardly any laughter whatsoever. I didn't hear any at all. They were looking rather stone-faced at Adam Schiff while he was making those remarks. So the atmosphere was tense at the time, which underscores just how polarized the Senate is over the impeachment proceedings.
But for the most part, virtually every senator was in their seats. They were listening. They were getting a little bit restless, of course, sitting through several days of long proceedings in which they have not been able to talk themselves. You can sense that the members were ready for this to wrap up.
But clearly, moments of tenseness in the room as now the Chamber is prepared to hear the defense team's argument starting tomorrow before they get into those critical votes starting next week to determine whether or not to subpoena any documents or move quickly to an acquittal of this President, Anderson.
COOPER: Manu, it's interesting. He actually had more time. He could have used more time - several hours, I believe - but chose not to and really was trying to kind of not only, as Kirsten said, sort of take a historical look and kind of a big-picture look, also trying to rebut what he believes the Republican arguments will be starting tomorrow.
RAJU: Yes. That was clearly his plan going in because they're not going to be able to speak for the next 24 hours over a few days here. So he wants to make - get on the front end. And it was interesting to hear him also make a fuller defense of things that he did because he's expecting to get criticized himself. Recall when he had the acting department - Director of National Intelligence testify before his committee and he talked about the Trump-Zelensky call, and he said he was doing parody--
RAJU: --when he was talking about that call. He gave a more fuller defense of his own actions. And I think that's in anticipation of what's to come in the days ahead, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Manu Raju, thanks very much.
We're going to do a - that's it for us. The news continues when I hand it over to Chris for "Cuomo Primetime." We'll be back at 11.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you very much.
I am Chris Cuomo. So it has now ended for the Democrats. They only get one chance at this. It's not like a typical trial where--