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The Impeachment Of Donald J. Trump. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired January 28, 2020 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:00]

There is a disagreement on policy decisions. Most of those that spoke at your hearings did not like the President's Policy.

That's why we have elections that's what policy differentials and differences are discussed. But to have a removal of duly elected President based on a policy disagreement that is not what the framers intended. And if you lower the bar that way, danger, danger, danger. Because the next President or the one after that he or she will be held to that same standard. I hope not. I pray not. That that's not what happens. Not just for the sake of my client but for the Constitution.

You know Professor Dershowitz gave a list of Presidents from Washington to where we are today who under that standard that they are purposing could be subject to abuse of power or obstruction of Congress. We know what this is, it's not about a President pausing aid to Ukraine, it's really not about a phone call. It's about a lot of attempts on policy disagreements that are not being debated here.

My goodness, how much time? How much time has been spent in the House of Representatives hoping, they were hoping that the Mueller probe would result in, I'm not going to play ya, I was thinking about it. Playing all the clips from all the commentators the day after that Bob Mueller testified. Bob Mueller was unable to answer under his examination basis and fundamentally questions. He had to correct himself actually. He had to correct himself before the Senate for something he said before the House.

So that's what the President's been living with. And then we're here today arguing about what? A phone call to Ukraine? Or Ukraine aid being held? Or a question about corruption? Or a question about corruption that happens to involved a high public profile figure? I mean, is that what this is? Is that where we are? And then what did we find out? The aid was released. It was released in an orderly fashion. The reformed President, President Zelensky wins but there was a question whether his party would to Parliament, it did. They worked late in to the evening with the desire to but forward reforms.

So everybody was waiting including, and you heard the testimony from I will say their witnesses. You heard the testimony, everybody was concerned about Ukraine -- everybody was concerned about whether these reforms could actually take place. Everybody was concerned about it. So you hold back. Didn't affect anything that was going on in the field, we heard Mr. Crow worrying about the soldiers, I understand that, I appreciate that but none of that aid was affecting what was going on the battlefield right then, of for the next four months because it was future aid.

And are we having an impeachment proceeding because aid came out three weeks before the end of the fiscal year? Or a six minute phone call? You boil it down, that's what this is. It's interesting to me that everybody's saying well the aid was finally released September 11th only because of the committee and the whistleblower who we've never seen. Mr. Philbin dealt with that in great detail; I'm not going to go over that again.

But you know, the new high court -- the anti corruption court wasn't established and did not sit until September 5th 2019. So while the President of Ukraine was trying to get reforms put in place, the court that was going to decide

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corruption issues was not set until September 5th. I want you -- I want you to think about this for a moment too, they needed a high court of corruption for corruption. Alright, think about that for a moment. Now that's good that they recognized it, but remember when I said the other day, you don't make -- wave a magic wand and now Ukraine doesn't have a corruption problem.

The high court of corruption, which they have to have -- because it's not just past corruption, they're concerned about ongoing corruption issues and you can put all of your witnesses back under oath and the next hearings you'll have when this is all over and you're going to be back in the House and we'll be doing this again, put them all back under oath and ask them Mr. Schiff is there a problem of corruption in Ukraine. And if they get up there and say no, everything is great now hallelujah.

And I suspect they're going to say, we're working really hard on it, and I believe them. But this idea that it was just vanished and now we're back into everything's fine. It's absurd. Mr. Morrison testified that while the developments were taking place, the Vice President also met with President Zelensky in Warsaw. That was the meeting of September 1st. The one, by the way, where the Vice President's office said in response to this New York Times -- nobody told him about aid being held or linked to investigations.

Are you going to stop -- are you going allow proceedings on impeachment to go from an New York Times Report about someone that says what they hear is in a manuscript? Is that where we are? I don't think so, I hope not. What did Morrison say? He heard firsthand that the new Ukraine administration was taking concrete steps to address corruption, that's good. He advised the President that the relationship with Zelensky is one that could be trusted, good.

President Zelensky also agreed with Vice President Pence -- this is interesting -- that the Europeans should be doing more, and related to Vice President Pence conversations he'd been having with European leaders about getting them to do more. In sum, the President raised two issues he was concerned with to get them addressed. Now I've already went over, again this is just the closing moments here of this proceeding - of our portion of this proceeding.

Aid was withheld or paused, put on a pause button not just for Ukraine, Afghanistan, South Korea, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Lebanon, and Pakistan and I'm sure I am leaving countries out. But do you think the American people are concerned if the President says you know before we give a country - I don't know -- $550 million, some countries only $400 million, we'd like to know what they're doing with it.

You're supposed to be the guardians of the trust here. It's the tax payers money we're spending. There was a lot of testimony from Dr. Fiona Hill, John Bolton's Deputy. Here's what she said about aid that was being held. This is from her testimony. "There was a freeze put on all kinds of aid and assistance because it was in the process at the time of an awful lot of reviews of foreign assistance.

Oh, you mean there was a policy within the administration to review foreign assistance and how we're doing it because we spend a lot of money. And by the way, I'm not complaining about the money. I don't think anybody doesn't want to help but we do need to know what's going on and those are valid and important questions.

Manager Crow told you the President's Ukraine policy was no stronger against Russia, but Ambassador Yovanovitch stated the exact opposite. She said in her deposition that our countries Ukraine policy under President Trump actually she words got stronger than it was under President Obama. So again, policy disagreements, disagreements on approach. Have elections, that's what we do in our Republic.

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For three long days House Managers presented their case by selectively showing parts of testimony. Good lawyers show parts of testimony. You don't have to show the whole thing but other good lawyers show the rest of the testimony and that's what we sought to do to give you a full review of what we saw as the glaring omissions by my colleagues, the House Managers.

The legal issues here are the Constitutional ones and I have been I think pretty clear over the last week starting when we had the motions arguments that my concern about the Constitutional obligations that we're operating under. I have been critical of Manager Nadler's executive privilege and other nonsense.

I want you to look at it this way. Take out executive privilege, first amendment free speech and other nonsense. The free exercise of religion and other nonsense. The rights to do process and other nonsense. The rights to equal protection are under the laws and other nonsense. You can't start doing that. You would not do that. No administration has done that, in fact, since the first administration. George Washington, they wanted information, he thought it was privilege, he said it was executive privilege.

But let's not start -- start calling constitutional rights other nonsense lumping them together. Of course (ph) this from -- from a House of Representatives that actually believes the attorney client privilege doesn't apply, which should scare every lawyer in Washington D.C. But more -- more scary to the lawyers will be for their clients.

They say that in writing, in letters. They don't hide it. I would ask them -- I don't -- I'm not going to, it's not my privilege to do that, do you really believe that? Do you really believe that the attorney client privilege does not apply in a congressional hearing?

Do you really believe that because then if it doesn't apply, then there is no attorney client privilege. Or is that the attorney client privilege and other nonsense? Danger, danger, danger. We believe that article one fails constitutionally. The president has constitutional authority to engage and conduct foreign policy and foreign affairs.

It is our position legally president in all times acted with perfect legal authority inquired of matters in our national interest and having received assurances of those matters continued his policy that his administration put forward of what really is unprecedented support for Ukraine.

Including the delivery of military aid package that was denied to the Ukrainians by prior administrations. And (inaudible) some of the managers' right here, my colleagues at the other table, voted in favor of those javelin anti-tank missiles for Ukraine. Some of the members here did not, didn't want to do that, voted against that.

I'm glad we gave it to him. I'm glad we allowed them to purchase javelins. I told you I never served in the military. I have tremendous, tremendous respect for the men and women that protect our freedom each and everyday, I -- tremendous respect for what they are doing and continue to do.

But this president actually allowed the javelins to go. Some of you liked that idea, some of you did not. It's policy difference. Were you going to impeach President Obama because he did not give them lethal aid? No. Nor should've you. You should not do that. Policy difference.

Policy difference do not rise to the level of constitutionally mandated or constitutional applications for removal from office, it is policy differences. By the way, it's not just on lethal weapons.

And President Obama, as I said, withheld aid. He had the right to do that.

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You've allowed him to do that. Oh, but we don't like that this President did it. So the rules change.

So this President's rules are different than -- he has a different set of standards he has to apply than what you allowed the previous administration to apply. And, you know what? Or the future administration to apply? That's the problem with these Articles.

We've laid out, I believe, a compelling case on what the Constitution requires. When they were in the House of Representatives, putting this together,

did they go through a constitutionally mandated accommodations process to see if there was a way to come up with something? No, they did not.

Did they run to court? No. And the one time it was about to happen, they ran the other way.

Separation of powers means something. It's not separation of powers and other nonsense.

If we've reached now, at this very moment in the history of our Republic, a bar of impeachment because you don't like the President's policies, you don't like the way he undertook those policies. Because we hear a lot about policies.

Partisan impeachment is now the rule of the day, which these members and members of the Senate said should never be the rule of the day. My goodness, they said it, some of them, five months ago.

But then we had the national emergency. A phone call, it's an emergency. Except we'll just wait. But a partisan impeachment based on policy disagreements, which is what this is and personal presumptions or newspaper reports and allegations in an unsourced -- maybe this is in somebody's book, who's no longer at the White House.

If that becomes the new norm, future Presidents, Democrats, Republicans will be paralyzed the moment they are elected, before they can even take the oath of office.

The bar for impeachment cannot be set this low.

Majority Leader McConnell, Democratic Leader Schumer, House Managers, members of the Senate Danger, danger, danger.

These Articles must be rejected. The Constitution requires it. Justice demands it.

Majority Leader, we would ask for a short recess, if we can have, of 15 minutes.

JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: The Majority Leader is recognized.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We will be in recess for 15 minutes.

ROBERTS: Without objection.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, so we heard from two of the President's lawyers, Patrick Philbin and Jay Sekulow. After this recess, we're told the final lawyer representing the President of the United State, Pat Cipollone, the lead counsel over at the White House, he'll make his final statement.

And then we're told they will go into recess until tomorrow, when the 16 hours of Q&A questions for the various Representatives of the House Managers, for the House Managers and for the White House lawyers will be able to answer questions.

Jeffrey Toobin is in New York.

You've been watching, about an hour and 15 minutes or so of their final statements before the 100 members of the Senate.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Jay Sekulow has been Donald Trump's lawyer longer than anyone else in this process. He goes back to the very beginning of the Mueller investigation, all of the other lawyers from that period are gone.

And I thought what you saw from him was channeling Donald Trump, was his feeling -- the President's feeling that the Deep State has been out to get him from day one, that Comey was out to get him and Mueller was out to get him, and all these bureaucrats are out to get him and it was kind of a greatest hits of the President's complaints about how he's been treated.

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TOOBIN: I don't know how much of it is relevant, probably not much to the actual accusation here.

But you know, Jay Sekulow has been hearing personally from Donald Trump these complaints for two years now, and I thought his comments were a very good window into how Trump feels personally about the accusations against him.

Laura Coates, how did you see these two lawyers making the case for the President?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, it is also window to build off of what Jeffrey was talking about, a window into how they viewed Alan Dershowitz's testimony yesterday because if you remember, Wolf, the overarching theme of Dershowitz's testimony, scholarly in approach was the same. This concept of abuse of power is way too vague.

It would not be a deterrent for anyone because it does not leave you much room to understand the specific allegations that would be the problem and essentially turns the presidencies tenure into being the pleasure of Congress.

And so he built off that theme today to suggest prospectively, if we set the bar for impeachment at this level as what he talked about being a policy dispute, which are the core of his matter of how they dealt with the quid pro quo, whether that's impeachable or not, if you set the bar at that level, that we set up future Presidents for failure. So it's clearly hasn't changed.

Wolf, what's important about this is how they began. They began talking about insufficiency of the evidence, there's not enough here to even impeach the President. Now, it is shifted to instead the idea of look, we're thinking about the country and the future of democracy and this is not separation of powers violation. This is a matter of Congress now trying to be above the law, not the President.

It's a turn of events, but one I think is catering to both the soundbite audience and the scholarly approach.

BLITZER: Very important, you know, Gloria, Sekulow basically dismissed the John Bolton new book and all the allegations that are reportedly in that book, same as they dismissed it as somebody whose book who is no longer in the White House.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And he said it's inadmissible evidence. So all of those people in the Senate who may want to take a look at it and read it, he said, well, it's inadmissible, and to me -- I mean, he also said Bolton is not telling the truth. He read what the President has said into the record, and said, it is it is not the truth.

And so he used the constitutional defense offered by Dershowitz saying, you know, even if it is the truth, although he didn't allow that, it's not the grounds to impeach the President, he had a right to withhold aid.

And to me, though, by saying that this isn't admissible, by saying that -- are you going to rely on a "New York Times" account of what really occurred in a way kind of begs the question of whether they actually need to hear from John Bolton as a witness?

BLITZER: You know, John, at one point he said, removal of this President means -- he rejected the notion that there was any abuse of power or obstruction of Congress. He said, this is not what the framers of the Constitution would have wanted.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And so you had two arguments really, Mr. Philbin before Mr. Sekulow, much more technical, almost nerdy trying to make the case, this doesn't reach the bar. The framers would not think this is anywhere close to what you impeach the President, even if some of you don't like this behavior, it just doesn't reach the bar.

Sekulow, as Jeffrey noted, more political in his argument, playing to the President's grievances. Why? Keep it political, that maybe you don't -- maybe you wouldn't do what the President did. Maybe you wouldn't have Rudy Giuliani do a shadow foreign policy, but the President didn't trust anybody because he was under attack constantly.

A lot of the Republicans in the room might roll their eyes. In fact, Jay Sekulow was trying to say, remember, put yourself in his shoes. Will it work is the question, which is why we're at a very interesting moment. We have this 15-minute break.

They are now on the phone with the White House, their client. Can we shut this down? Donald Trump is about to yield back television time. They have several more hours if they want to take it.

I don't say that as a joke in the sense that they think they're on a good path, and their argument is now we're going to go. Mr. Cipollone will come out, and he'll speak for maybe an hour or two, and then they will yield back some time, then we get into the unpredictable part. Where's the math?

Mitch McConnell is doing it right now in their private meetings talking to his staff. Where's the math on witnesses now? Then you go into the 16 hours of question, does it change that? And if anything is said, either what we just heard or what we will hear in the President's final close, does it affect that key question? Can you get four Republican senators to demand John Bolton come in and give a deposition? Do they just try to get the manuscript? Can Mitch McConnell put all of that down and say, let's just move on to dismissal after the 16 hours, we're about to go into the unpredictable back and forth.

And again, both parties will now use those 16 hours to try to advance their case.

BLITZER: Now, presumably, we'll start tomorrow. Dana Bash up on Capitol Hill. So there, basically the President's lawyers dismissing these John Bolton allegations.

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DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, and I just want to go back to what Gloria was saying. I mean, the fact that Jay Sekulow brought it up at all given the fact that they didn't mention it, until Alan Dershowitz did last night, despite the fact that it was the only thing people were talking about in these hallways, is very telling that Sekulow went back at it, tried to argue that it's not admissible, but also that it's not accurate. It tells you that there is still real concern, among the President's team, a real concern among the Republican leadership in the Senate.

That it is, as in the words of one Republican who is trying to find a way out of this to me earlier that the train is on the tracks, and it's moving towards witnesses, towards calling John Bolton and so that's why in these precious few moments that the President's team felt that they needed to take the time to once again that dismiss a newspaper report about this manuscript.

While again, as we speak, the senators aren't talking to one another, specifically on the floor because they can't, but you can bet they're doing it right now in the cloakrooms, maybe in Mitch McConnell's office about the idea of well, maybe the White House should listen to Senator Lankford, who came on this network talking about his idea to bring the manuscript to the Hill for people to read in order to make a better decision about whether or not to call John Bolton as a witness.

He insists, it's not an attempt to try to beat back those four Republicans to convince them they don't need to hear him. But regardless, it's an indication of how real that possibility is -- not a done deal, but real, the possibility is at this hour.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by. Dana, we're going to get back to you. We're going to take a quick break. We're in the midst of this short recess right now from the U.S. Senate. Much more on our special coverage of the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump.

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