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Awaiting Crucial Senate Vote on Witnesses in Impeachment Trial; Senate Defeats Motion to Call Witnesses. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired January 31, 2020 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And maybe we will actually hear what the resolution is, because they're going to have to come up with one soon to figure out when they're going to take these votes. Jake and Wolf?
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Let me just ask you guys a question while I have you --
TAPPER: -- Dana Bash and Manu Raju. What are the Democrats want? Obviously, the Republicans wants to have a vote on the motion to have new witnesses and new evidence, a vote that the Republicans will win and the Democrats will lose we believe, and then after that, I know that there is some talk of Senator McConnell, the majority leader wanting to give Republicans and anyone else an opportunity to explain their votes one way or another. And what do the Democrats want?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Democrats want to have the opportunity to offer some amendments. It's not clear what those amendments actually would do. But wants to underscore their point about how they believe this trial in their view has not been fair. So they want to have some set number of amendments. They also want to have a number of floor speeches so that the members can go to the floor. Probably, most if not all of those 47 Democrats are eager to go to the floor and speak their mind about what is happening.
So, they want some time to speak. So that is part of the negotiation right now. Giving all those members time to speak and they are not concerned at all about wrapping this up quickly. In fact, they would be, as you know, more than happy to have the State of the Union still happening while the trial has not been concluded. So there's no incentive for the Democrats and leave Democrat leadership to wrap this up.
BASH: And I would just add as I toss back to you, Jake. Somebody in there mentioned the question and the pressure coming from the Democratic base. I mean, the Democratic base would be even though they are if you look at polls and talk to people who are kind of on the ground, much more interested in the issues like health care. They are also interested in Democrats fighting tooth and nail to the end to try everything that they possibly can to get what they call a fair trial here.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right. It is the top of the hour. So let's just recap where we stand right now. There is a pause in the Senate trial of the president of the United States. You see the chief justice left part of your screen. He's standing there. He is waiting for some sort of deal to work out.
They had completed what was supposed to be four-hours equal between the House managers and the White House lawyers, arguments and favor and against witnesses and new evidence. They concluded those arguments.
We anticipated that there would then be a vote -- a formal vote on whether or not there would be new witnesses and evidence that would be allowed. That vote has not yet happened. We anticipate it will happen by all accounts, it will be 51. Opposed to new witnesses and evidence, 49 in favor, the Democrats will lose that vote.
And then, there's going to be a lengthy discussion on where they go from there to the final vote, not only of impeaching, but removing the president of the United States, convicting him from office.
So, Phil Mattingly is up on Capitol Hill. So, you've been watching this very carefully. Do you have a clue what is going on?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Watching and also checking with sources, trying to get a sense. And just to be clear this is very fluid right now. But what's essentially happening is negotiations over the end game, and why this is happening, Wolf.
Again, this isn't about the witness vote. Republicans have the votes more or less locked up for that, and that is technically the next step of what is to come. What happens after that is simply not prescribed at this point in time.
What I am being told is there is a significant split inside the Republican conference about what happens next. Republicans who wants this to end tonight to push through no matter how many motions Democrats try to offer. To have that final vote either tonight or early tomorrow morning versus Republicans in the conference who had made clear that they want the opportunity to be able to speak on the floor and give their views about what they have seen over the course of the last nine days.
What that means is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not have the votes to move forward on an end game here. We have been talking throughout the course of the last couple of hours about a potential resolution that Republicans were putting out there. They kind of run the idea by Democrats that would push this into the middle of next week, that is running into issues that Republicans who want this trial to end as soon as possible.
So, what you've seen on the floor over the course of the last 15 or 20 minutes. You saw Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, and Mitch McConnell, meet and speak to one another. By their sides, Gary Myrick, Chuck Schumer's top floor official, secretary of the minority, and Laura Dove, the secretary of the majority.
These are the two chief procedural whizzes on the United States Senate staff. They are two of the most important people you never hear about or see about. If you look on your screen on the right, the woman in the white jacket talking to Senator John Thune who is on the red tie, that is Laura Dove. She's probably the most important person in the United States Senate you have not heard about.
And why that matters is that it underscores that negotiations were needed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can't just move this through on his own, because essentially, what we're being told is that they don't necessarily have the votes to do that. And so, that is why you are seeing these negotiations.
You've also seen some shuttle diplomacy as well. You've seen Laura Dove move back and forth between Eric Ueland, he's legislative affairs director at the White House, kind of checking off one another trying to see where things are going.
And you have saw or at least I have heard Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, walked out of the chamber a short while ago.
And I think the understanding is right now, that to some degree, they are buying time. They are trying to figure out if they can figure -- Republicans can figure out where the votes are for the end game right now internally. If there is anything they can offer to Democrats so that Democrats want that would be agreeable to them to set up an end game to that degree, but the reality is, we are in a pause. We are in a buying time perspective at this point in time, because nobody is sure how this is going to end.
We know how it is going to end from a vote perspective. We know the witness vote will go down. We know the president will be acquitted, but in terms of what happens in between those two things, guys, that is the biggest unanswered question right now, and that is why you are seeing staff and leadership really get together.
I just want to make one kind of final point here before I throw it back to you, guys. One of the things that's happened over the course of the last nine days, just because of the length of the trial, the length of the days, the Senate operates one, by consent and two, by floor staffs and the leaders having agreements, knowing how the path is going to move forward. You basically can't operate in the Senate if the majority leader and the minority leader don't have some agreement on what's moving forward, if the floor staff isn't not regularly able to talk to one another.
And to some degree over the course of this trial, because it has been so long, because the days have been so long, because senators cannot move, because they can't talk, because floor staff can't really talk to one another. That has not happened at all.
We also have the reality that Senator Schumer and Senator McConnell have not really spoken at all over the course of the last -- not just couple of days, but last couple of weeks. Their relationship is not exactly at a high point right now either.
And so, what you've seen is those sides really actually coming together on the floor. Whether or not that ends up with a resolution is an open question. But these are talks that usually happen, particularly on the floor staff level quite regularly, every single day, throughout the course of the day when the Senate is in session. They haven't happened as much over the course of the trial just purely for logistical reasons. And now, you're seeing that happen, which means they are trying to figure it out. They understand there is a necessity to figure it out. And it also means the Republicans appears have a vote problem in terms of how this trial is actually going to end, guys.
BLITZER: Phil, do we know which Republican senators actually want to speak on the Senate floor and which ones want to just get this over with?
MATTINGLY: So, we've been told that Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, obviously, two senators who are moderate senators who have made clear that they were up in the air on the witness vote to this point. They are going to split their votes on the witness votes. Susan Collins is going to vote in favor of witnesses with the Democrats. Lisa Murkowski announcing earlier today, she would vote no, sticking with the majority of Republicans.
And as our understanding that they have made clear, they believe they need the opportunity or should get the opportunity to speak on the floor, to be able to express their views. Remember, this isn't out of left field. In 1999, senators, they were in closed session but they were given 15 minutes to be able to read statements to their colleague in terms of what they thought, why they reached to conclusion they did.
And so, there's a push from some Republicans. We don't know the entire universe of Republicans that want to do that. And there's also a push from other Republicans, I'm told, individuals like Senator Lindsey Graham who've made clear this should end now.
We know how this is going to end. We know how the witness vote is going to go. We know how the acquittal vote is going to go. And because of that, we should be able to push though. And I would say, there's also a bit of competing pressure here from the White House.
Obviously, the White House has the State of the Union coming up on Tuesday night. They have made clear that the idea of keeping this going this pass the State of the Union isn't considered ideal for them. They would like the president to be able to announce on live television in front of millions of viewers. That he has just been acquitted and this is behind him and he can move forward.
Now, the flipside of that is you have Democrats who I'm told to this point at least to some degree, one of the issues is they are not willing to agree to any resolution that doesn't go back past the State of the Union. They also want to ensure that they have opportunities to offer motions, at least a certain number of motions which they don't believe they'll win. But at least be able to make the point of what's going on.
They wanted - Senator Schumer earlier today, told reporters he doesn't want this to happen in the middle of the night. He wants this to happen in broad daylight, so everybody can see the process has played out. The process he's obviously referred to as rigged. He is very disappointed how the witness vote is going to go.
So, you've kind of got this cross - cutting pressures at this point in time that has created a very difficult moment. It is not a difficult moment if Republicans have the 51 votes they need to move forward. It is a difficult moment if all of a sudden you need to try and figure out how to find more votes. And I think that - we're watching on the floor is important, and a little bit to a lesser degree right now, because mostly what you're seeing is Republicans on there. What's happening off the floor I think is probably more important right now. If Republicans are meeting and talking to one another, trying to figure out their own internal path forward. And also, kind of figuring out what Democrats might want or think they should get if they are to agree to any path forward. Wolf?
TAPPER: Phil, Senator Santorum has a question for you.
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Phil, I just - the question is, is anyone talking about doing the senator statements in public? Because the whole concept in the past has been, this is a jury deliberation. Juries do not deliberate in public. They deliberate in secret where you have an honest exchange of ideas. And so, are Collins and Murkowski actually looking for public statements as opposed to closed session?
MATTINGLY: So, I don't want to attribute this directly to Collins or Murkowski.
What I would say based on what I have been told, Senator, is that our understanding is that the statements would be public at least in some of the discussions about the proposal that Senate Majority Leader McConnell was working on earlier. And to your point, and I mentioned this, that if you make a good point in 1999, obviously the statements were behind closed doors. We weren't able to see them. I think they were printed in the record. I think a lot of people released their statements as well. And so this is a wrinkle here that we're all trying to figure out. I think you know obviously you have (INAUDIBLE) up there too or at least didn't have (INAUDIBLE) up there who knows far more about the Senate that I could ever learn but I think if there's an agreement, obviously, to do this in public you can do it. But it would be in a departure and I think - everybody is kind of trying to figure out right now.
SANTORUM: The problem with that is, to get an agreement, Jake, you need unanimous consent. And I can tell you, if I would say in the Republican, I'm not going to give you know Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and people like that the opportunity to go in the Senate floor.
SANTORUM: And so, there's that - you may have opposition just on that one issue maybe gumming up the work.
BLITZER: Dana Bash is getting some new information. Let's go back to here. What are you learning Dana?
BASH: I am here with Manu, and I have just - I got a text from somebody who is let's say part of these discussions who said this point blank, lots of conversation still on the schedule, no conclusion yet. So now you actually can see on your screen, the bottom right, that is just the Republicans talking there, but there are intense discussions, and lots of the cross currents that we have been talking about -- that Phil was talking about -- that Manu and I were discussing earlier. It's pretty intense, and it is pretty unclear how they are going to go. Manu, you also are just getting some new information from your sources.
RAJU: Yes, it sounds like that they are still looking at the final vote on acquittal next week. At least that's what I have been told at the moment. We will see if that changes. But that is still what appears to be where they are headed.
Now, ultimately the question is what happens tonight. What happens immediately after this witness vote goes down, because when it is going down, that is when that resolution and Mitch McConnell will unveil, will detail the next steps of what will happen, and what Democrats will plan to offer amendments on that resolution and there is some discussion right now about a handful of Democratic amendments.
One person told me that potentially three amendments that Chuck Schumer is looking at. We'll see if that's what they settle on. We'll see these discussions are fluid and continue to change. It looks like the chief justice there is arriving there. He's looking at his papers. It doesn't appear that they're ready to get back into session at the moment because Mitch McConnell is still standing at his desk, coddling with some of his colleagues.
But they are talking about a process that would allow Democrats to get their votes on amendments, a limited number of amendments and then senators would have an opportunity to speak publicly on the floor of the Senate. That would happen early next week into that final acquittal vote, and in the moment, it has been a Wednesday, and still sounds like Wednesday. We will see if it changes.
BASH: And so, the question is, when you are talking about amendments people watching are probably thinking, amendments to what? They are going to vote on witnesses. There will be a final vote on both articles, and then what happens?
RAJU: Yes. We will have to see. Well, they -- it looks like the chief justice is coming back. Back to you, guys.
BASH: OK, let's go back.
TAPPER: All right. We're going to squeeze in a quick break. We'll be right back. While the Senate is taking this moment of pause, we're going to take one, too. Stay with us.
BLITZER: All right. There has been a pause what they are calling a quorum call, but it's going on and on in more than a half hour already. The Chief Justice John Roberts, he's there, stood up. I think that is Dianne Feinstein who just came over to welcome him. But you noticed that on the left part of the screen, the House managers, the Democrats, they are gone and the right part of the screen, the White House counsels, they are not there. And so, there is stuff going on. We are trying to figure out what is going on.
You know, Gloria, this could continue for a while.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it really could. I mean, I am looking at the original resolution here, and it is very clear that there is a hole. You could drive a Mack truck through which is following the disposition of the question of witnesses, other motions provided under the impeachment rules shall be in order, other motions in order.
Now, the big question I think we all have right now is what are those other motions that Chuck Schumer might be thinking about that could be so objectionable to Mitch McConnell and what about we reserve the right to call, to subpoena John Bolton. Let's just -
SANTORUM: No, not reserve the right. They're going to - it will be a straight out -
SANTORUM: -- we're going to subpoena John Bolton.
BORGER: I mean let's think of -
SANTORUM: They want Republicans again -
SANTORUM: -- to vote no on both -
BORGER: We don't -
TAPPER: Well, not just - not just - not just the measure that says witnesses - they're calling witnesses -
SANTORUM: Well, that's going to be voted on right here.
BORGER: So -
SANTORUM: That's - I'm talking -
TAPPER: Right. They want additional ones. So, this specific witness so that can say -
BORGER: That's right.
TAPPER: -- it in an attack ad against Susan Collins. Susan Collins --
SANTORUM: After this information was released, they still voted no.
BORGER: So - and I don't know and you can tell us, would Chuck Schumer have to tell Mitch McConnell right now in these negotiations what his amendments are that he might offer -
SANTORUM: Yes, they will.
BORGER: -- or does he not have to tell him?
SANTORUM: Yes, they will tell him what they're going to offer and they'll limit the number and the substance and they'll have to - you know the leader will -- Leader McConnell will have to agree or disagree.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And how much debate time would they have for those amendments?
SANTORUM: 72 hours (ph)
TAPPER: OK. If you're looking at your screen right now, what we have is -- we don't control the cameras, C-Span does not even control the cameras, because during this process, the Senate has taken control.
And so, we only have this one shot. And on the right side of your screen is a close-up of what you see on the left side of your screen, and right there, you see some of the Republican leaders of the Senate. There's Mitch McConnell in the foreground. John Barrasso, Ted Cruz, that's Eric Herschmann on the left in the close-up. He's one of the president's attorneys. And they are all - just trying to figure out what comes next.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can see Cipollone - Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow, the other two lawyers to the left.
TAPPER: There we go, the cameras are panning over.
KING: Yes. They came back into the room, as you mentioned earlier. Both the House managers and the president's team had left and gone into the little side rooms, but then the president's team came back in, and Barrasso and Cruz were the first to approach them. And now they having a conversation, whether they're updating them on negotiations or they're just having a little chat while we wait is unclear to us. But they came back in and Cipollone merely walked over trying to figure out what's going on.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Watching the conversation on process, though, it does sort of raise the question as to whether or not the lawyer's arguments throughout the substance of the trial were persuasive when they dealt with process issues. I mean you look - as we are watching this, we see the intensity with which the Senate is taking up this particular process issue, and it just makes me think whether or not all of those process arguments that particularly the defense counsel made resonated with the Senate.
TAPPER: And there's another close-up. This is the chief justice of the United States John Roberts who is on the top left. If you look on the left side of your screen, you see that on the top left near the American flag, that is the close-up on the right side of the screen, and that is Chief Justice Roberts who is presiding over this trial, and he is talking to two Democratic Senators Ben Cardin of Maryland and Ed Markey of Massachusetts. And Senator Santorum, you were saying that you think what's going on is that the Democrats are trying to get as much as they can during this one period where they have leverage over the process?
SANTORUM: Yes. I mean, you know this is a political exercise. The votes are - the votes are in. So now, it's you know, what do you want to accomplish? And I think the interesting thing here is that the four Democrats running for president are - don't seem to be factoring very much into what the Democratic decision is. I mean, they want to stay here. They want to have debate. And now, there may be a situation where they adjourn the trial tonight and they reconvene on Wednesday, but you are not going to get all of the debate time on Wednesday if you do that. So it is just interesting how they seem to be pushing for something that may disadvantage their own members.
CORDERO: Well, isn't that maybe one of the points of contention is the time if they were to break over the next couple of days, the timing of when they come back?
BLITZER: All right, hold on for a moment. We're going to squeeze in a quick break. We will be right back.
TAPPER: Welcome back. Time is standing still on the floor of the U.S. Senate where there is a pause as the Democratic and Republican leaders try to figure out what comes next, which way forward.
If you look on the left side of your screen, you see the Senate camera, and then on the right side of the screen, you will see a close-up, and those are Senator Marco Rubio of Florida talking to at least - that's Mike Lee of Utah and then two of the president's attorneys, the White House Counsel Pat Cipollone on the left, and Jay Sekulow in the center wearing the red tie.
Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill, and she has some information about Senator Susan Collins, one of the few Republicans - only two actually - willing to vote in favor of new witnesses such as John Bolton. And Collins is part of what's going on right now, Dana, you tell us in terms of negotiations as to what's coming next.
BASH: Right. So, part of the issue as we have been discussing that they are trying to work out is balancing for Mitch McConnell. The difference is in his own caucus, among Republicans about how much time to spend. A lot of them say let's just go through the night, finish it tonight. And others are saying, no, we want to have more time to speak.
Susan Collins is one of those people, but I'm told by a source close to her that yes, she is trying to help with the solution, but that she's - that she wants members to be able to speak, but that she is not saying she wants people to speak for long periods of time. So, they are trying to clarify that, but the important point here is that she is, as our team has been reporting here, Senator Murkowski and others as they're making this very, very difficult decisions, they have been sitting and they're not able to express in a public way for the record, for the constituents back home exactly what their positions are.
So that's what I'm hearing right now. Manu Raju is actually with me here in the Capitol as well and Manu is hearing some new information from his sources.
RAJU: Yes, that's right. There are still negotiations happening about how exactly that will be structured as you're saying. There are a lot of Republicans who are pushing very hard to end this tonight. But people like Senator Lisa Murkowski want some more time, and the others want -- some are saying that they want to be - have the opportunity to speak on the floor. Democrats in particular want to have an opportunity to speak on the floor. A lot of them in the 47-member caucus want to do just that. So they're talking about the Democrats are delaying.
It's have votes tonight and a handful of amendments. Next -- early next week, they would -- they'll come back. They would leave, not be here this weekend, and come back Monday, have -- allow members to speak on the floor on Monday, Tuesday, and potentially go into -
BASH: And -
RAJU: -- the acquittal vote Wednesday.
BASH: Yes, and -- OK. So that's important but just real quick before we toss back, we're talking about amendments. Let's just put this in context for people. These are way -- additional ways for Democrats to get on record with things that they want and they are not getting. So they are going to force votes for the record on things. Go ahead.
RAJU: Yes, and just to underscore what they are pushing, the points they are pushing, and they'll ultimately fail. It's all, essentially, a prelude toward the inevitable, which is President Trump being acquitted by probably the middle of next week.
BASH: Going down kicking and screaming. RAJU: Yes.
BASH: That's basically it. Wolf and Jake?
BLITZER: And, Dana, maybe you can explain to our viewers. We've often seen breaks, the Majority Leader -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says they'll be a 15-minute break, a dinner break, and then the cameras are off and everybody goes away.
Why didn't they do that this time? Why is there -- why are they still in session as opposed to a formal break, let them figure out what to do next, and then bring the cameras back?
BASH: That's actually a really good question. He could have done that. There's probably -- Alan might be able to tell you if there is a parliamentary reason why he went to a quorum call --
BLITZER: Hold on a second.
BASH: Go ahead.
BLITZER: Maybe former Senator Santorum.
SANTORUM: I can tell you why, because they want --
SANTORUM: They want everybody to stay in the chamber.
ALAN FRUMIN, SENATE PARLIAMENTARIAN EMERITUS: Yes.
SANTORUM: Because they want to force a solution so when they get it, they can move immediately to a vote. If they take a break, everybody goes. It may be -- as you've seen, 15-minute breaks last an hour, so you want to keep people in the chamber. You want to have the threat of a vote to keep people, you know, close at hand.
BLITZER: That's a good point. All right. Let's bring in Jeffrey Toobin. Jeff, you know, you watch this and it seems fairly confusing to a lot of people out there, but there must be some logic to what is going on.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Not necessarily.
TOOBIN: I mean, you know, this is -- this is a hundred egomaniacal legislators trying to agree on things, it's difficult. And, you know, they're very --
SANTORUM: I take exception to that remark.
TOOBIN: You know, I don't pretend to know how it's going to turn out other than the ultimate result. But, you know, I have covered Congress somewhat, but certainly nothing like Dana and Manu, and this is -- this stuff happens with some regularity.
There's a lot of standing around, you know, chatting with each other while the leaders try to find a way out. But, I mean, you know, when you cover Congress, you cover a lot of scenes like this where people are standing around, chatting with each other.
It's clear to me that the ball is in the Democrats' court because all the Republicans are on the floor. You see the Senate -- excuse me, you see the White House lawyers are there. Republican Senators are there. And then the Democrats are pretty much off and huddling, the Democratic managers.
You don't see Adam Schiff. You see Cipollone. So it's the Democrat -- the ball is in their court right now, and they're trying to figure out what their response to the proposals.
BORGER: Well, and what they would ask for. If they --
SANTORUM: Yes. No, that's exactly right.
BORGER: If they want amendments, OK, what are --
SANTORUM: What amendments.
BORGER: -- what would our amendments be?
SANTORUM: Timing of debates, all that.
BORGER: And how would Mitch McConnell react to that?
SANTORUM: Open, closed. All these things are --
BORGER: Exactly, exactly.
TAPPER: And, Nia, I mean, I don't know that there is much more the Democrats can exact out of this.
TAPPER: They have their attack ads written for the vulnerable Republican Senators who are up for re-election who are, with the exception of Susan Collins, all going to vote against new witnesses. And presumably, every Republican, I would think, is going to vote to acquit President Trump.
TAPPER: So maybe we'll learn as to what they think they can get out of here. There's also the question about who wants this to end before the state of the union and before the Super Bowl when President Trump does an interview with Sean Hannity during the Fox broadcast of the Super Bowl. The President obviously wants it all done by Sunday, if not Thursday.
TAPPER: But maybe not even Mitch McConnell wants that.
HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, maybe sort of holding this over the President's head for the next couple of days sort of keeps him quiet, makes the state of the union not as boastful, so we'll see.
I mean, we have scenes like this before with, like, legislation. But usually, when it seems like this with legislation, we sort of don't really know the outcome. We don't know where people are going to vote on a big piece of legislation. You think about what happened with ObamaCare and John McCain, in the last minute, sort of saving it and voting against Donald Trump.
Here, we do know the outcome. We don't know who's going to speak in the end. Is Susan Collins going to give some big floor speech? Does Lisa Murkowski want to give one? Elizabeth Warren? And that's what we'll find out in the next days.
BLITZER: All right, hold on a second.
SANTORUM: Let's jump from that (ph).
BLITZER: Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You need to gavel back (INAUDIBLE), call us to order.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I ask consent the further proceedings on the quorum call be dispensed with.
JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: Without objection.
MCCONNELL: The Democratic Leader and I have had an opportunity to have a discussion and it leads to the following. We'll now cast a vote on the witness question and once that vote is complete, I would ask that the Senate stand in recess subject to call of the Chair.
J. ROBERTS: Thank you. Without objection, so ordered. The question is shall it be in order to consider and debate under the impeachment rules any motion to subpoena witnesses or documents? The yays and nays are required under Senate Resolution 483. The Clerk will call the role.
CLERK: Mr. Alexander?
CLERK: No. Ms. Baldwin?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Barrasso?
CLERK: No. Mr. Bennet?
CLERK: Aye. Ms. Blackburn?
CLERK: No. Mr. Blumenthal? Mr. Blunt?
CLERK: No. Mr. Booker?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Boozman?
CLERK: No. Mr. Braun?
CLERK: No. Mr. Brown?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Burr?
CLERK: No. Ms. Cantwell?
CLERK: Aye. Ms. Capito?
CLERK: No. Mr. Cardin?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Carper?
CLERK: Mr. Casey?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Cassidy?
CASSIDY: No. CLERK: No. Ms. Collins?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Coons?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Cornyn?
CLERK: No. Ms. Cortez Masto?
CORTEZ MASTO: Aye.
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Cotton?
CLERK: No. Mr. Cramer?
CLERK: No. Mr. Crapo?
CLERK: No. Mr. Cruz?
CLERK: No. Mr. Daines?
CLERK: No. Ms. Duckworth?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Durbin?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Enzi?
CLERK: No. Ms. Ernst? Ms. Feinstein?
CLERK: Aye. Ms. Ernst, no. Ms. Fischer?
CLERK: No. Mr. Gardner?
CLERK: No. Ms. Gillibrand?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Graham?
CLERK: No. Mr. Grassley?
CLERK: No. Ms. Harris?
CLERK: Aye. Ms. Hassan?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Hawley?
CLERK: No. Mr. Heinrich?
CLERK: Aye. Ms. Hirono?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Hoeven?
CLERK: No. Ms. Hyde-Smith?
CLERK: No. Mr. Inhofe?
CLERK: No. Mr. Johnson?
CLERK: No. Mr. Jones?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Kaine? KAINE: Aye.
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Kennedy?
CLERK: No. Mr. King?
CLERK: Aye. Ms. Klobuchar?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Lankford?
CLERK: No. Mr. Leahy?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Lee?
CLERK: No. Ms. Loeffler?
CLERK: No. Mr. Manchin?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Markey?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. McConnell?
CLERK: No. Ms. McSally?
CLERK: No. Mr. Menendez?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Merkley?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Moran?
CLERK: No. Ms. Murkowski?
CLERK: No. Mr. Murphy?
CLERK: Aye. Ms. Murray?
CLERK: Aye. Mr. Paul?
CLERK: No. Mr. Perdue?
CLERK: No. Mr. Peters?
CLERK: Aye. Ms. Rosen?
Mr. Scott of Florida?
R. SCOTT: No.
Mr. Scott of South Carolina?
T. SCOTT: No.
CLERK: No. Mr. Udall?
Mr. Van Hollen?
VAN HOLLEN: Aye.
J. ROBERTS: Are there any senators in the chamber wishing to change his or her vote? If not, the yeas are 49, the nays are 51. The motion is not agreed to.
J. ROBERTS: Under the previous order, the Senate stands in recess, subject to the call of the chair.
BLITZER: All right. Well, that's it, history has just been made. The very important motion to get witnesses and new evidence allowed in this trial of the President of the United States fails, 51-49.
Not a surprise. We anticipated that only two Republicans would vote in favor, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney.
TAPPER: Mitt Romney, yes.
BLITZER: And as a result, it didn't get -- it didn't get what they needed. They needed 51 in order to pass it; they had 51 opposed.
TAPPER: And when you step away from the move to remove President Trump from office, which is difficult to do, because that's the context of all of this, and you step away from whatever qualms people might have about the way that the House impeachment managers have conducted their case, or how the House Democrats conducted the impeachment, just looking at this motion, OK, and what this motion was doing, which would allow subpoenas for further witnesses or further documents, it is striking that there is a national security adviser for President Trump, John Bolton, who is out there basically waving his hands and saying, I would like to be subpoenaed, I would like to testify.
He has a manuscript. And according to "The New York Times," in that manuscript, he claims to have had conversations with President Trump in which Trump asserts a quid pro quo. They cannot have this military aid, security aid, $391 million worth, unless -- according to this "New York Times" story, unless they deliver on these investigations into the Bidens.
In addition to that, you have the President's former chief of staff, John Kelly, retired Marine general, rock river Republican, out there talking to people, saying I think that the Senate should call new witnesses, I believe John Bolton even if President denies this.
And even if that context, the Senate voted the way they did, with every Republican, except for Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, saying I don't need to hear anymore. Some of them even saying even if you believe what John Bolton is saying and even if you believe the quid pro quo, it's not enough to remove somebody from office.
BLITZER: And, Gloria, it's clear that 51-49 against witnesses -- hold on a moment.
TAPPER: We have Senator Schumer speaking right now. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): -- a witness, a document.
No witnesses, no documents in an impeachment trial is perfidy. It's a grand tragedy, one of the worst tragedies that the Senate has ever overcome. America will remember this day, unfortunately, where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, where the Senate turned away from the truth and went along with a sham trial.
This -- if the President is acquitted with no witnesses, no documents, the acquittal will have no value because Americans will know that this trial was not a real trial. It had no witnesses, no documents. It's a tragedy on a very large scale.
I will be now going up to my caucus to discuss what we're doing next. I will not talk about it here, OK? Thanks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And that's the Senate Democratic leader trying to do what Nancy Pelosi did a couple of days ago, which -- which is assert that this trial, and we expect acquittal, is not an exoneration of President Trump because new witnesses and new documents were not allowed.
We should note that -- that Leader Schumer there asserted that there were no witnesses and no documents, and that is obviously not the case. There have been more than a dozen witnesses who were brought in, their video testimony from the House impeachment inquiry, and thousands of pages of documents.
The question is whether to compel new witnesses and new documents. And it's true --
BLITZER: And they voted against it.
TAPPER: And they voted against it. And it's true that there's been no Senate impeachment trial without a new witness.
TAPPER: But there have been witnesses in this trial, we should point that out. Let's bring in Dana Bash if we can.
SANTORUM: Well --
TAPPER: We'll come to you in a second, Senator. Dana Bash, you have new information?
BASH: Hi there, Jake. I think somebody was just saying that we wanted to try to explain what was going on, on the Senate floor. Senator Schumer sort of did it, but when we heard Mitch McConnell say we're going to go into recess subject to the call of the chair, just to do some translation from Senate speak into English, that's another pause button just like we saw with the quorum call.
As Senator Santorum knows because he was on the leadership here in the Senate on the Republican side, initially, they did the quorum call to keep everybody close. They didn't get anywhere. They didn't get to a solution, to a compromise, on what the rules of the road would after this dramatic witness vote we just saw.
So that's why they did recess subject to the -- subject to the call of the chair, which means a longer break so that they can continue to have these conversations. Because they still don't have a plan for how to devise how to build the exit ramp to get to the end of this trial.
BLITZER: So, Dana, are you saying that they could call back -- the Senate could come back into session --
BLITZER: -- later tonight?
BASH: They can come back into session at any time. I'm going to defer to my colleague from Pennsylvania there, Rick Santorum. He can be more specific. But, yes, they can and will come back. And hopefully, if they come up with a compromise, they will tell us all what it is.
SANTORUM: Yes, they -- there are three pause buttons. One is a quorum call, where you keep everybody close by. In this case, you would. Not normally but, in this case, you would.
Second is recess. And at the moment that the leader wants to call them back in, you simply go up, and the Senate goes back in. And the third is the adjournment. In that case, you're done until the next day.
And so, what they're saying is, we're -- you know, stay around. They're probably not going to have any votes. My guess is they won't have any votes tonight, but they could. It all depends on what the negotiation is.
TAPPER: I want to ask former Congressman Charlie Dent, another great Pennsylvanian on the panel, to react to what you've seen. Are you surprised that Republicans were so unified, with two exceptions, in voting against new witnesses, especially given the fact that Bolton is out there saying I really would like to testify?
CHARLIE DENT (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Yes, I thought since "The New York Times" did that piece on Bolton -- Bolton coming out, I thought that would've changed the dynamic a little bit, gotten a few more votes for witnesses. I mean, he -- firsthand account, there was a quid pro quo, no question about it.
So, right now, I think that the Democrats are mad. They lost. Republicans are divided. That's why they've gone into a recess. Any time the majority is not -- got its act together, they recess to the call of the chair, and that's what's happening right now.
And the Democrats are, I suspect, going to do all they can now to slow this thing down. They feel like they're in a commanding position. They've got the knife, they've inserted it, they're twisting it because they can. And it's fun for them. And that's where we are, but I'm -- I am really stunned that there was
not -- there were not more Republican votes for witnesses because I think we should hear from them. Everybody thinks we should hear from them. The -- Bolton is compelling and corroborates everything that's been said up to this point.
BLITZER: But the President wants this over with as quickly as possible. He's got a state of the union address on Tuesday night. He doesn't want witnesses. He doesn't want this to go on and on and on.
DENT: Well, sure, he doesn't. And, you know, I think the sad part of this whole thing is that this -- you know, he'll be acquitted and -- but there will no be -- there is no consequence from the Senate for what many of them have acknowledged to be very bad behavior, at the very least. So, a guy like Lamar Alexander.
I still think -- I never liked censure, but, at this point, why wouldn't it be a bad idea to bring up a censure resolution in the Senate? So those senators, who can say this conduct was, at the very least, inappropriate or wrong and they voted against acquittal, well, let them vote for something.
If I were the Democrats, I'd try to push that vote on them. See what swing state Republicans would vote for censure.
BORGER: I don't know if Democrats would vote for that because they would feel that it isn't enough.
DENT: Yes, well -- yes.
BORGER: And they -- and so that would -- and I don't know if you could get enough Republicans to --
DENT: Well, they're on record to vote for a --
BORGER: -- to go through that.
DENT: -- to a --
SANTORUM: They'll maybe move (ph) but --
BORGER: But --
SANTORUM: I don't know what's permissible as far as an amendment to a resolution, but they may make -- they may do something like that. I'm not suggesting they would --
BORGER: They could.
SANTORUM: -- but the Democrats may offer an amendment to provide for a debate on censure. I mean, that's one of the possible amendments.
BORGER: Well, it's interesting --
TAPPER: And let me just bring in --
TAPPER: -- Carrie Cordero for a second. Carrie, just in terms of bringing in John Bolton, it's not going to happen. We know it's not going to happen.
As an attorney, talk about what you think he might be able to add to the case. We're -- I guess we're going to hear from him when his book comes out and when he does interviews.
CORDERO: Yes, fortunately.
TAPPER: So we are going to know what he has to say, just not in a way that affects the Senate vote.
CORDERO: Yes, and that affects the national conversation and potentially could have affected history, you know. I mean, one of the questions that I had going into this trial was whether or not the Senators would ever really wrestle with the facts of the conduct on the part of the President that was alleged.
And I think from the fact they have not voted to hear a witness, who so clearly, obviously has material, relevant information to provide, that it shows that there are at least some of the Senators who have been able now to get through this entire trial without ever really having to deal with all the facts.
On the other hand --
SANTORUM: How can you say that? I mean, they just had -- they just --
CORDERO: Because John Bolton is a material witness who didn't --
SANTORUM: Excuse me, but this is a -- they just sat --
CORDERO: -- who they did not subpoena to testify.
SANTORUM: They just sat through, you know, four days of arguments, and the Democrats -- I mean, the House managers had two days, 24 hours, to lay out, quote, all the facts from a body that said we have overwhelming evidence, it's crystal clear. And then, you're saying, well, the Senators don't care. That's just not a fair analysis of senators --
CORDERO: There is --
TAPPER: Carrie, I'm going to come back to you in a second.
SANTORUM: -- senators' --
TAPPER: I just want to bring this --
SANTORUM: -- senators' deliberations.
TAPPER: I just want to bring this news because Mitch McConnell just issued a statement. This is the Senate Majority Leader, obviously, saying, a majority of the U.S. Senate has determined that the numerous witnesses and 28,000-plus pages of documents already in evidence are sufficient to judge the House managers' accusations and ends this impeachment trial. There is no need for the Senate to reopen the investigation, which the House Democratic majority chose to conclude and which the managers themselves continue to describe as overwhelming and beyond any doubt.
Never in Senate history has this body paused an impeachment trial to pursue additional witnesses with unresolved questions of executive privilege that would require protracted litigation. We have no interest in establishing such a new precedent, particularly for individuals whom the House expressly chose not to pursue. Senators will now confer among ourselves with the House managers and with the President's counsel to determine next steps as we prepare to conclude the trial in the coming days.
Carrie, go ahead.
CORDERO: But this is all -- I mean, this is the process of how they're going to resolve it and how they're going to be able to come to a conclusion with some of these Senators being able to save face, politically, for the vote that they just took. But the fact of the matter is that, although there was a wide body of House evidence presented by the House Managers, they've left evidence on the table. And that evidence is John Bolton.
Now, with respect to John Bolton, it didn't have to be this way. John Bolton could have appeared before the House voluntarily like other people who are still in the government --
SANTORUM: Or the House could've pursued the proper legal course with the court.
CORDERO: Well, no, because the administration said that they were going to sue until whenever, and then that would have taken forever to go through the article's report.
SANTORUM: So -- so expediency --
CORDERO: The purpose of doing it through the Senate --
SANTORUM: So as Republicans were getting at is the expediency --
CORDERO: -- is that the Senate could've resolved the -- the legal issue.
SANTORUM: This is the point that Mitch McConnell just made, it is not up for the United States Senate to make a determination on executive privilege. It is up to the courts to make that determination. This is a constitutional right that the Senate unilaterally cannot make a determination, nor should they.
TAPPER: Although we should -- we should --
BLITZER: All right, hold on. Hold on for a moment. TAPPER: We should just point out, though, in terms of the conversation
between Bolton and President Trump, that there is a strong case to make, and Carrie has made it, that because Trump has commented publicly about that conversation, he has waived his rights to assert executive privilege when it comes to that conversation about Ukraine between President Trump and John Bolton.
BLITZER: You know, and, Gloria, I think it's significant. The conclusion of this McConnell statement says, we will determine next steps as we prepare to conclude the trial in the coming days.
BLITZER: That means he's not --
BORGER: I don't we're getting votes tonight.
BLITZER: It's not going to conclude tonight.
BLITZER: There's not going to be a final vote even at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. In the coming days, he is saying, which suggests we're talking maybe Tuesday or Wednesday.
BORGER: Yes, and I think that his -- obviously, not going to happen tonight, but I'm curious about something else in his statement where he talks about, never in Senate history has this body paused an impeachment trial to pursue additional witnesses with unresolved questions of executive privilege.
So does that mean that what Schumer wants is more votes on witnesses --
SANTORUM: No, that was just --
BORGER: -- or was he just talking about this?
SANTORUM: It was just the appearance of their (INAUDIBLE) --
BORGER: He was just talking about this.
BORGER: But in the Clinton impeachment, of course, there were witnesses.
SANTORUM: But they were already -- they'd already --
BORGER: And they did pause the trial to vote on witnesses.
SANTORUM: They had already -- BORGER: They had already been deposed, I know that, but --
SANTORUM: They had already been deposed. There were no new witnesses during the Clinton impeachment trial.
BORGER: So I guess the question that we all have to think about is, what does Mitch McConnell want? And what do his Democrats want? And do they all agree about what they --
BORGER: -- about what they want? Because we don't know the answer to that.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, step back a little bit. Give us the big picture right now of what we're seeing.
TOOBIN: Trump won. I mean, you know, he is going to win this trial. He won on the issue of witnesses. He's going to get acquitted, and that's how history will remember what went on here.
I think history will also record that there are at least one, and perhaps other, pivotal, pivotal witnesses who were available to the House of Representatives to talk -- to the Senate to talk about the precise issue that is the subject of this impeachment trial, and the Senate decided not to hear from him.
The idea that John Bolton is out there with a book and giving speeches for money and said he's willing -- and, you know, having someone leaking the contents of that book daily to the "New York Times," and the Senate decided not to hear from John Bolton is just --
SANTORUM: It's because -- it's because --
TOOBIN: -- an absolute travesty.
SANTORUM: Jeffrey, it's because, as you heard from many senators who have commented since, you will hear from many more, they believe that the House case, as presented in the articles of impeachment, is not sufficient on its face to vote to remove a president. That's what they believe.
TAPPER: And now --
SANTORUM: Irrespective of the witnesses.
TOOBIN: I think that --
CORDERO: So then they're not going to deal with the substance of the allegation --
SANTORUM: Because --
CORDERO: -- because of a process issue? SANTORUM: No, it's not a process issue.
CORDERO: Which is why it seemed that they were so engaged on the process issues and what they never dealt with was the President's conduct.
SANTORUM: They're voting on articles of impeachment that the House presented. If the House articles of impeachment, in the eyes of senators, are not sufficient to remove a president, who cares what the case brings?
TAPPER: Let's bring in --
CORDERO: Oh, so who cares --
SANTORUM: Well, hold on --
CORDERO: That's exactly the point, so they just looked away from the facts.
BORGER: Can I ask the Congressman a question?
TAPPER: Let's --
SANTORUM: They're not looking away from the facts. You're --
TAPPER: Let's bring in -- let's bring in --
BORGER: Just one question.
TAPPER: Let's bring in --
BORGER: Could the House call Bolton tomorrow?
SANTORUM: I don't know how you're not catching this point.
DENT: Well --
BORGER: I mean, what stops the House from calling John Bolton tomorrow?
BORGER: Well --
DENT: I'm sure Nadler and the House Judiciary could call him any time he wants. You know what --
TAPPER: And there have been discussions of the House --
TAPER: -- of the House subpoenaing John Bolton.
BORGER: So --
TAPPER: Although he's also made it clear he -- he was OK -- he wanted to speak in the Senate trial, I think, is what he wanted to do.
DENT: No, but when you get outside this bubble of Washington though, I have to think most fair-minded Americans would say, yes, we should hear from John Bolton.
Given these new revelations from the book excerpts, we should hear from him. And it was even -- I still can't get over Dershowitz when --
DENT: -- when he said the other day that if an elected official, the President, is acting in the public interest, he can engage in a quid pro quo that benefits him personally.
Somebody call the FBI. Tell them that prisons are littered with former elected officials who were acting in the public interest and engaged in quid pro quo. I can --
TAPPER: Especially Pennsylvania prisons, I might add.
DENT: Yes, I'm watching that. I'm watching that (INAUDIBLE) as a mayor.
TAPPER: All right, let's go to Preet Bharara, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Preet, your response right now to this Senate vote, 51 senators, all Republicans, saying, no, we do not want to allow any new witnesses or any new documents.
PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, I mean, I think I agree with the adjectives been -- that have been used by other people. It's a travesty. I go back and forth between thinking, do you call it a sham, or do you call it a shame? And it's probably both those things.
Look, John Bolton is going to testify in a way, but it won't be under oath and it won't be in the Senate. He's going to testify, in a manner of speaking, night after night on television and on the road and on the radio and in editorial pages for weeks and weeks and weeks.
This is different from a case where you might not have a person speak out publicly. He's going to end up, I believe, winning the battle with respect to his book, which will be an important legal battle to watch in the coming weeks. And then, he'll be free to speak in some way or another.
And the fact that, you know, the former senator there on your panel says, well, there's a technical argument that the Senate trial was based on -- even without witnesses or documents, it was based on the limited record that was provided to the House --
SANTORUM: Not what I said.
BHARARA: -- that's not -- that's not -- SANTORUM: Preet -- but, Preet -- Preet -- but hold on one second, Preet. Preet, that is not --
BHARARA: -- that's not how people are going to perceive it. What the --
SANTORUM: -- what I'm saying. Let -- just be very clear because everyone is misrepresenting what I'm saying. I'm not talking about the record.