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Interview With Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Republicans Block Witnesses in Trump Impeachment Trial; Senate Defeats Motion To Call Witnesses; Soon: Senators to Vote on Next Steps in Impeachment Trial. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired January 31, 2020 - 18:00   ET

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


[18:00:03]

RICK SANTORUM, CNN COMMENTATOR: Preet, that is not what I'm saying.

Just be very clear, because everybody is misrepresenting what I'm saying. I'm not talking about the record. I'm talking about the articles of impeachment themselves, not the witnesses, not the record,.

The actual allegations made against the president in article one and article two are, of themselves, insufficient to remove a president. That's what Republicans are saying.

You can argue all you want about witnesses. You can argue all you want about documents. The point that's being made is, it's almost, we will demur. We will say, OK.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: And Lamar Alexander said, I'll accept everything to be true. Still not guilty.

(CROSSTALK)

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Senator, that wasn't a motion to dismiss.

That was a motion to seek witness testimony. And people understand, no matter what legal or technical argument you're going to make about sufficiency, or you're going to make about the closed record of the House...

SANTORUM: Why would you need witnesses to a charge...

(CROSSTALK)

BHARARA: I know you used to be an elected official, but we're both now private citizens, and I think I should be able to finish my sentence.

SANTORUM: Respond to my question.

BHARARA: Common sense reigns supreme. And people understand that, when you have a person like John Bolton,

who is close to the president, after the president's supporters and lawyers were saying week after week after week, you have no evidence of someone with firsthand knowledge, and this person has firsthand knowledge, and is prepared to testify, the public is going to perceive that as a sham.

And I think that they will. And there is a reason why I think there is a debate in the Senate right now about how much deliberation there should be, because senators who understand that it's a sham, and that common sense renders it a sham, don't want to spend a lot of time on this and have to explain.

And some people do want to explain, because they have constituencies who will be asking them the question. You have a guy who was close to the president with firsthand knowledge that undermines the chief defense of the president of the United States. Why don't you let him testify?

(CROSSTALK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, Senator Santorum -- we're going to let Senator Santorum respond.

But I just want to reset for our viewers who are just joining us right now.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. This is a special edition of THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're watching history unfold in the U.S. Senate. They have just defeated a motion to allow witnesses, new witnesses to appear before the trial of the president of the United States, new evidence to be made available in the trial, the impeachment trial of the president of the United States.

And now there is a pause. They're waiting for the next steps.

And, Jake, it's clear right now that, according to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that next step could come a few hours from now, could come in the next few days, but it's not going to be over with until the coming days.

And there is a push by several Republican senators right now to not have the final vote on conviction and removal of the president, which will fail -- you need 67 senators -- the Democrats don't have that, clearly -- until Wednesday.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Right.

But we should acknowledge the very historical moment that just passed, which is the U.S. Senate, in pretty much a party-line vote, although two senators, Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, broke from the ranks and voted with the Democrats, the U.S. Senate voted against the idea of any new witnesses or new documents. And the fact that this was done -- and Senator Santorum and former

U.S. attorney Bharara were just debating this -- the fact that this is done with a former national security adviser of President Trump, John Bolton, a conservative icon out there saying he he's willing to testify if he's subpoenaed, which is a change.

He didn't have that position. And then he announced that he was willing to do that. "The New York Times" is reporting that this book, in the book, Bolton has -- claims to have firsthand testimony in which he says President Trump was directly linking $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine with his demand that they announce investigations into the Bidens, that that's what the book says, according to "The New York Times."

And in addition to that, the former chief of staff to President Trump, John Kelly, Marine general, very conservative, is out there saying the U.S. Senate should hear from what -- John Bolton, and even though Trump claims that what Bolton saying is not true, I believe Bolton, even though Kelly and Bolton used to fight all the time.

Even among all that, 51 Republican senators said, we don't need to hear. We don't need to hear.

And that's just remarkable. I understand that there's all sorts of issues as to why they did that. And Senator Santorum is here to explain that, but it is remarkable on its face.

Two very prominent conservatives, Kelly and Bolton, out there saying, there's more to the story. And Republicans in the Senate, they see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

BLITZER: They have heard enough.

John King, I'm anxious to get your thoughts.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in terms of that conversation, look, Mitch McConnell thinks by the time the election rolls around, people will have forgotten this. He's willing to pay a short-term price today.

[18:05:02]

I do think, is it a risk? it is a risk for those senators. We only know pieces of what's in Bolton's book. We don't know when Bolton starts talking, if other people will start talking.

We don't know if more of these e-mails and documents will be released through a Freedom of Information Act request or some other process and where there are the redacted materials that now make some of it hard to understand come clear.

So any senator voting against witnesses is taking a risk that by November or by next year or five years from now, some of these things do take time, they will be embarrassed, that there will be information in the public. But Mitch McConnell's calculation is, this is the president's party. This is what the president wants. The leader believes that he needs to keep his Senate majority and that he can do it this way by getting this over as quickly as possible. That's his bigger calculation about these votes and trying to keep Republicans in line.

Now he's trying to find an off-ramp for this trial, which is interesting, because you saw how raw Chuck Schumer was. Democrats just lost. The base is mad at Chuck Schumer. How couldn't you get -- couldn't get Lisa Murkowski? Why couldn't you get Lamar Alexander?

So the Democratic base does not want this to end or at least they want to land a few more punches before it does. So McConnell has to deal with that in negotiating some kind of an agreement, while also trying to figure out his internal family dynamics.

Susan Collins wants to speak. Murkowski wants to speak. Do you do that in a public setting? Do you do it in a private setting? So he's negotiating with two separate groups.

The family one, at least he gets along with them. That doesn't mean it's easy, but at least he gets along with them. The Democratic one is more interesting to me in the sense that because of the rawness among the Democrats, and as the senator has repeatedly mentioned, the other complication is the four senators who would like to leave.

I don't think that's a dominant factor. I think the bigger issues for Chuck Schumer are the party and the broader group of his members, but it's certainly a subplot as he tries to go around the room. He's got four senators saying, can we land a few more punches, but get me out of here.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, I mean, John is talking about some of the risks some of these senators are going to face if there's more information that comes out, and likely there will be from the Bolton book and these reporters basically breaking news on this.

The other risk is that the president has basically been emboldened by this, right? I think Nancy Pelosi, Democrats came thinking that impeaching the president in the House would send a message to him to not do this again or face this risk.

If you think about what Alan Dershowitz said on the floor of the Senate, you think about what Philbin said as well, in terms of it being OK to have a foreign government give information on a private citizen, a political opponent, seems like the president might be emboldened by what happened.

TAPPER: Well, I just want to note that President Trump just tweeted one minute ago.

"Democrats, 17 witnesses, Republicans, zero witnesses."

Go ahead.

BLITZER: Dana Bash is getting some information on what's going on behind closed doors right now.

What are you learning, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Republicans are in one room, the Democrats are in another just in and around the Senate floor. And they are basically having discussions within their tribes, trying to figure out how and what and where the exit strategy is.

This is a really colorful, but very clear quote from John Thune to our colleague Clare Foran. He said: "We're trying to figure out how to land the plane."

And that really sums up where they are right now. I just got a text from a Democratic senator saying, just as Manu was reporting, that they are pushing for a series of amendments tonight to try to continue to make the points that we're hearing on the panel, we heard from Senator Schumer, about the fact that they don't feel that this was a fair trial.

Unclear if they're going to get that. So they're trying to push for that. But, more importantly, on the Republican side, they're dealing with some internal dynamics, whereas you have some key Republican senators who continue to say they want to talk.

I just heard from an administration source continuing to bang on the notion they want this done. They want this done soon. They don't want this to be held over anywhere near the State of the Union. Never mind that it's -- this is the impeachment trial of the president of the United States. So it's understandable that the White House and the president want this to be done very quickly.

So they are deliberating amongst themselves in their own tribes, if you will. And then at some point, they're going to have to come together and figure out whether they can -- how -- not whether -- they can, because they're going to have to figure out some way -- what that path of moving forward is to begin the final debate and the final votes on two articles of impeachment.

TAPPER: All right, Dana Bash on Capitol Hill.

Let's bring in Jeffrey Toobin.

And, Jeffrey, I want you to listen to what I was just texted from a Senate Republican aide. He tells me: "The Republican Caucus meeting happening now should be very interesting. The lunch meeting earlier today was contentious. Members were livid. They found out that the trial might not finish tonight. Lots of anger.

"The question right now is not about what Schumer wants. It's the four moderates who are holding things up," meaning Romney, Murkowski, Lamar Alexander, and Susan Collins, "the four moderates holding things up. He met with the four of them during the last recess. That was supposed to be 15 minutes and took 50."

So that's from a Republican Senate aide, obviously not an aide to those four senators, the moderate, so-called moderates,.

[18:10:07]

And there is anger at them.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes.

I mean, there are marginal differences among the Republicans. But let's keep in mind that they are all, perhaps with the exception of Romney, maybe Susan Collins, are going to vote the same way.

And I want to go back to something Rick Santorum said a little while earlier, and I think he's exactly right, which is that the Republicans take it as a given. This is the argument that Alan Dershowitz made during the trial, which is, even if you accept every single thing that Adam Schiff said and the other managers said as true, this is not an impeachable offense, so it doesn't matter what the witnesses say.

It is completely OK, it is completely not impeachable that the president went to a leader of a foreign country and said, you are not getting the taxpayer dollars that the Congress authorized for you unless you give me dirt on Joe Biden. That's fine. That's totally fine.

And we don't need to hear any witnesses on that.

And I think -- I think Rick is exactly right that they don't need any witnesses because they think that's fine.

SANTORUM: Well, first off, I'm not saying and no Republican senators saying they think that's fine. There are a few. I shouldn't say no -- there are some who are lined up squarely with President Trump, who said the call was perfect, but not very many that you have heard comment, and since this impeachment trial has taken place.

In fact, everyone that I have heard comment talked about one word was not -- some said wrong. Some said inarticulate. Some said unartful.

You're getting -- Republicans are recognizing that what the president did here was not perfect, or in some cases not close to perfect, but the question is, do you -- number one, this is what the Democrats are asking for. They're asking to throw the president out of office for this and taking him off the ballot for the next office.

That is -- as I think Lamar Alexander said, that's the death penalty for something. And there's lots of crimes. There's lots of things that people do wrong. But this is a high crime that deserves the death penalty. And Republicans are saying, just like Democrats said, and Bill Clinton in my day, when I voted for impeachment because the president committed perjury, tampered with witnesses, crimes, but they said it's not a high crime.

And you know what? I can understand their point of view. What I don't understand is when I hear Preet and you say, wow, these people are just -- it's an outrageous claim that it's not a high crime. It's not. It is -- I gave Democrats -- in 1999, I said, look, I

understand their point of view. I don't agree with it. But to say that you can't -- you can't give any quarter to someone who feels that way I think is just harsh.

TOOBIN: Well, it may be harsh, and we can disagree about the seriousness.

But, Rick, the idea that there are a lot of senators critical of the president, when they are so terrified of him that they use words like in artful and inappropriate, and that they are killing themselves to get this thing done by the State of the Union, so Donald Trump doesn't get mad at them, I mean, this is hardly any condemnation from the Republicans who run the U.S. Senate.

Come on.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: All I can tell you is the Democrats in 1999 voted to dismiss it right after -- even before witnesses.

BLITZER: All right, let's bring in Preet.

Preet Bharara, I know you're anxious to weigh in as well.

BHARARA: Yes.

I actually don't think it's a crazy, outrageous, absurd position if, in good conscience, a senator, a Democrat or Republican, after hearing all the available evidence and evidence that's that's begging to come into the trial, decides, you know what, this was a terrible thing that the president did, and for various reasons, consistent with what I think the Constitution says and my own oath and my conscience, probably with a mix of politics in there, I just don't think we should remove a president.

I don't agree with that. That wouldn't be vote if I were a senator. But I think that's reasonable.

What I think is not really, what I think it's actually stupid and silly and self-destructive and self-defeating, is when you have this witness, John Bolton, who so clearly has relevant information that came available a little bit late in the process, wants to come forward.

I think those senators who voted against hearing him, notwithstanding these other arguments that you keep making about what the record shows or doesn't show, or whether or not they have met a threshold of argument, in the commonsense world in which Americans live in this country, they will not understand that vote.

It looks like they're scared. It looks like they're craven. It looks like they're trying to get off the stage with their tails between their legs. And I think that's not going to fly well.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: I'm going to agree with you. I think that is a risk that Republicans are taking right now, just as I would say that the Democrats took the same risk in ramming this through the House of Representatives.

You heard Republicans talk process, process, process, and Democrats ignored that process. And, again, I think each side will have their own talking points. Whether it has a determinative effect on people's votes in November, I think, is more suspect.

TAPPER: Everyone, stick around. We're going to squeeze in a quick break.

[18:15:01]

We will be right back with more coverage of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump.

We will be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following the breaking news. The U.S. Senate has decided they don't need to hear any new witnesses. They don't need to get any new evidence, a 51-49 vote, almost completely along party lines, two Republicans voting with the Democrats.

Dana Bash is up on Capitol Hill.

There's a break right now, a pause. They probably will resume at some point later tonight. What are you learning, Dana?

BASH: Well, Wolf, I have with me Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, who also is one of the four senators who is here, and not in Iowa, which is three days away now.

[18:20:00]

First of all, what can you tell us about what is happening behind the scenes?

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, the caucuses are meeting and trying to work out what's going forward.

We're so disappointed that we failed with one vote, 51-49, not what we wanted to have happen, when every single hour new news is breaking about things that Mr. Bolton has said.

I keep telling my colleagues, it's not going to be five months from now or five weeks from now where the truth comes out. It's probably going to be five days from now.

So, right now, we're looking at amendments that we could do to maybe be more specific about witnesses or getting more time to -- maybe with each and every day, it will change their mind on allowing witnesses. So, that's what our discussion is about.

BASH: So, I have to you.

I'm looking at you talking to me here in the Capitol three days before the Iowa caucuses. I know you're doing your job, but are you dying inside?

KLOBUCHAR: Not that I'm a competitive person, but I know we have an incredible staff out there.

We have more endorsements of legislators than close -- anyone. It's not even close, and former legislators of all the candidates. They're all out for me. And I just got the endorsement of the Iowa city newspaper, in addition to Quad City. We have just got Seacoast in New Hampshire, in addition to the other two.

So, literally, I feel like I have been working on this for a year, and a lot of the motions are in place. And, hopefully, I'll be back at least by Sunday, to see our people and rally them on. And that's just the way it is.

I have got to believe that people in Iowa and beyond understand that I have a constitutional duty to do my job, and that they see it as a positive, because it shows that I'm in the arena pushing for the truth, and that it's a plus.

BASH: Talk to me more about what was going on, on the Senate floor right before the witness vote and then afterwards.

There's a sense that we know that the way that the original resolution was written, it wasn't entirely clear what the path forward would be, which is why you're having all this back-and-forth.

KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

BASH: Is there kind of a point where it -- the whole notion of reaching out to the base, which is what Democrats are doing, making it clear that you're going down kicking and screaming, because you know where the votes are? That's my point.

(CROSSTALK)

KLOBUCHAR: Yes, but, remember, we didn't know where Senator Murkowski was going to be until today.

So, of course...

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: I'm not talking about the witnesses, just about the final -- the final votes.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, again, I think that we have some amendments that we want to see what happens and then we go from there. But, remember, General Kelly today said that they should do their job,

and that it's a half-job if you don't have witnesses.

We keep having more and more people speak out. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?

BASH: Well, we're going to -- we might have some news.

I'm going to thank you for right now, and toss it back to Jake.

KLOBUCHAR: OK. All right.

BASH: Jake.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, Dana Bash, and, of course, Senator Klobuchar.

For the last couple hours, Washington has been consumed with what is going to happen next.

During this period, of course, there has been the vote against allowing more witnesses or more documents.

But our own Manu Raju on Capitol Hill now has some breaking news for us about what we believe is going to happen next, what are the next steps -- Manu.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I just caught up with members of the Senate Republican leadership who are leaving a closed-door meeting about the next steps in President Trump's impeachment trial.

And, essentially, what they're saying is this. There is a deal between the leader of the Senate Republicans, Mitch McConnell, and the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, for an acquittal vote for President Trump next Wednesday.

And the way that this process is going to work, according to those two senators who came out of the meeting, this is going to start tonight. Tonight, there are going to be four or five Democratic amendments that will be offered by Democrats to try to push what they believe will make -- amount for a fairer trial, in the Democrats' views.

Those Democratic amendments will fail. And then, afterwards, essentially, they will be done for the evening. There will not be a weekend session. And then, afterwards, they will return Monday. That's when closing arguments would occur.

Both the House Democratic managers will make their closing arguments, and the president's defense team will make their closing arguments for a set period of time. And then senators will be allowed to give floor speeches during the time Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week, because a lot of senators who have been sitting in the chamber have -- they have not been able to speak at all during the trial and have been -- a lot of them have been eager to speak. And they will be allowed to do that, voice their views about the process and about everything that's been happening. They will be making their floor speeches Monday through Wednesday.

And then that will set up that key vote Wednesday afternoon, the major vote, about the -- President Trump and whether he should be convicted on charges of high crimes and misdemeanors, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Of course, the president is expected to be cleared on those charges. So, that acquittal vote will occur on Wednesday of next week on both of those matters.

Now, that -- significant is that the White House wanted that acquittal vote to be done by Tuesday, because Tuesday, President Trump is giving his State of the Union address. He wanted to use that as a triumph for an acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate.

But because of the process, because the way this is playing out, and because is the timing and the demands by senators to have their own opportunity to speak on the floor, this is ultimately going to be delayed until Wednesday.

[18:25:08]

So, some Republicans are not happy about it. They wanted to go through the night, power through the night, finish it up tonight. Democrats will not allow it. They do have a power in this process to delay things a bit.

And, essentially, they have delayed it, and delayed it until next Wednesday. So that's going to be the vote that we will all look for next, acquitting the president of the United States.

So his trial will last for a few more days, but the -- but inevitable -- the inevitable outcome will be the president will be acquitted by the middle of next week.

TAPPER: And, Manu, let me ask you. And you might not know the answer to this, since it's all kind of a work in progress.

We haven't seen the actual resolution you're speaking of. There has been a requirement during the Senate impeachment trial for all 100 senators to be president at all times during the trial. There's been a bunch of other rules, no phones, no reading materials, et cetera.

But that has been very disruptive for the four Senate Democrats running for president, as well as other senators that have other business and other legislation and hearings and things that they want to do.

Is that rule going to hold for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, when senators are going to be giving these speeches? In other words, if I'm Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, or Michael Bennet, do I have to be in the Senate on Monday, the day of the Iowa caucuses?

RAJU: It's a great question, Jake.

And I believe the answer to that is, no, they do not have to be in the Senate, because, as you know, during the trial, they were not allowed to speak. But they will be allowed to speak now because of what they're probably going to do is, they won't be formally in the impeachment trial when these senators will be allowed to speak.

They will be in essentially regular Senate business. So, senators can, of course, speak during regular Senate business. And they will be able to speak up to 15 minutes each. So that's why they will be allowed to speak.

So that means also senators don't have to be in attendance. Only the ones who are speaking need to be in attendance. Only the presiding officer of the Senate needs to be in attendance. I assume Chief Justice Roberts does not need to be in attendance either.

So, essentially, the Senate will carry on. Members we will be able to give their speeches. But when the closing arguments happen on Monday, when the House Democratic managers make their closing arguments on Monday, and the defense team makes its closing arguments, that's when all the members are likely going to be -- have to be in attendance.

That's when Chief Justice Roberts will have to be in attendance. But when the speakers themselves speak -- sorry, the senators themselves speak, then the rest of the fellow members of the body will not have to be present.

So, ultimately...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Manu, can I just -- I'm sorry to interrupt.

RAJU: Yes.

TAPPER: Did you just say they do have to be there Monday night when the House managers and -- for the closing arguments on Monday night?

RAJU: I would assume so. Of course, I have not seen the text of this.

But given that that would be the closing arguments of both sides, I would assume they would have to be there on Monday. Now, I don't know if it's nighttime. It could be as -- 1:00 is when this has started. And it could be up to about four hours, I was hearing, of closing arguments.

So, potentially, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bennet, they will all have to be president from 1:00 to, say, 5:00 p.m., if they do four hours of closing arguments. Presumably, they can be in Iowa on Monday morning.

But they would have to be back by the afternoon, when it begins, and then come the rest of the time. Tuesday, when floor speeches are happening, they don't have to be there. Wednesday, of course, during the acquittal vote, they will have to be

there. So it will certainly disrupt the schedule a little bit significantly, potentially, for these members that are running for president, guys.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: It's going to be a very busy week.

We're talking about the Super Bowl on Sunday, the Iowa caucuses on Monday, the State of the Union address by the president on Tuesday, and a final acquittal vote -- and there will be an acquittal of the president -- on Wednesday.

TAPPER: But, I mean, I have to say.

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: Just, I mean, if you're running for president, Bernie Sanders, who is, according to polls, one of the leaders in Iowa, if not the leader, Elizabeth Warren in the top four, not being able to be in Iowa...

SANTORUM: And understand what -- these caucuses, it's not like a primary night, where the senator -- I mean, your candidate can be there or not. I mean, it's -- everybody's voting. These are caucuses.

I mean, I went to five caucuses or six caucuses on caucus night.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Rally the troops.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Yes, you go to the bigger caucuses. You get a chance to speak in front of the caucus folks.

This is a huge blow, if this is true.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Maybe there's special dispensation.

SANTORUM: This is a huge blow to the Democrats -- to these four Democratic candidates.

BORGER: And I want to know what these amendments are also.

BLITZER: Well, tonight, they're going to have a series of amendments.

BORGER: Well, I know, but what are the series of amendments?

They have already voted on the witnesses.

BLITZER: Presumably, these are Democratic amendments. Presumably, they will all be defeated.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: Right. They will fail, but they have already voted on witnesses individually, if you will recall.

So what are these? What are these amendments that they're going to force Republicans to take votes on?

And as to these candidates, I mean, I'm wondering whether they will get special -- a note from the principal or something.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: They have to be there.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: The Senate rule says, the sergeant at arms can go and get you.

KING: If they're in the closing arguments...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I have no idea what these amendments are going to be.

But, John King, if I'm reading how this is usually done, it will be something that can be inserted at the end of an attack ad: Senator Cory Gardner even didn't vote for whatever these amendments are.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Right.

Look, this has been a political process from the beginning. But now we're into the hyper-politics, in the sense that everybody knows the end math.

[18:30:02]

Like we said earlier, Chuck Schumer is under a lot of pressure. Four members of his conference may not like this, but sometimes you get what you asked for. He said he wanted more time. He said he wanted to do things, so Mitch McConnell is giving him his amendments and pushing off the vote. It would be extraordinary. I'm not sure the Senate impeachment rules would allow it. They have to be there for the closing arguments. That's official. You could be exempted for -- if they go to a regular business or speeches.

So the benefit for the four senators is they'll get to leave late tonight or first thing in the morning and be in Iowa Saturday and Sunday. But to the senator's point, especially the Democratic caucuses, the rules of the Democratic caucuses are much more fluid. The Republican caucuses, you'd vote. The Democratic caucuses, you have to have viability, you can go between camps. And so it's an interesting process that if they have to be back there Monday, they are going to --

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Nia, what's a bit encouraging is that this is a deal apparently worked out by the Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, and the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And we'll see details of it and all the specifics about when the timing is and when people can be aware. But if they have to be there Monday, if they can be sort of wandering around Tuesday and Wednesday, it doesn't really help them on Tuesday and Wednesday, because the Iowa caucuses, if you're Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren and Michael Bennet, I mean, you want to be there on the ground.

As John said, they'll get to be there this weekend. And we saw a little bit of drama on the floor, then kind of trying to figure this out, and behind closed doors, it looks like they figured it out. In some ways, I mean, we began this day thinking it would end today. Then as the day went on, it look liked -- yes. It wasn't like --

TAPPER: It wasn't what he had thought. That would mean that Senate Republican and Democratic leaders.

Senator Santorum, you won the Iowa caucuses in 2012, as I don't need to remind you. If somebody had told you, you get to campaign Saturday and Sunday, but Monday, the day of the caucuses, you cannot be in Iowa, you have to sit through these speeches, what would your reactions have been?

RICK SANTORUM, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, think of Sunday. It's Super Bowl Sunday, and the Kansas City Chiefs, which all of Western and Southern Iowa, not saying all but most of it are Kansas City Chief fans. I mean, that's the -- up in the northeast part, they root for the Packers and the Vikings, the Bears along the river. But a big chunk of Iowa --

TAPPER: Don't forget, guys, they're all 99 counties. That's twice, twice, yes.

SANTORUM: A big chunk of Iowa are Chiefs fans. You'd better not be knock on anybody's doors or expect any rallies during the Super Bowl on Sundays.

TAPPER: You're going to bring them wings (ph).

SANTORUM: It's a very interesting dynamic that I would be furious, incensed. I mean, this is going to cost --if this is the case, and, again, we don't know -- it would cost them votes, it may cost them a win.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: How is that going to be if you were the president who wanted to go on the Super Bowl, having been vindicated, as he, will no doubt say, or give of the State of the Union, and say, let's put this behind us, or maybe he wants ahead (ph), but, okay, I've been vindicated and now we're moving on and be able to do that to an audience of millions of millions of people. SANTORUM: Well, I think, yes, certainly the president wants to do a victory lap, but there may be some, maybe Mitch McConnell, maybe some others, who actually think having the president not having been vindicated by the State of the Union, by temper, his demeanor, which could be a good thing, at least from the same point of some Republicans.

TAPPER: I can't believe that Mitch McConnell would be that Machiavelli.

SANTORUM: Not that Mitch is a Machiavellian, I'm just suggesting that that might be possibility.

TAPPER: That's interesting.

BLITZER: It's interesting because you obviously narrowly beat, what, Mitt Romney in 2012 in Iowa.

SANTORUM: A good conservative Mitt Romney.

BLITZER: You spent a lot of time campaigning in all 99 counties in Iowa. And you say that if Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, if they can't be there, it helps Biden and Buttigieg?

SANTORUM: Absolutely. In a race like this, which is so close by all indications, I mean, it's --

TAPPER: And Iowa could be life or death for Senator Klobuchar too. And it says --

SANTORUM: For her particularly.

TAPPER: Yes. I mean, Sanders and Warren, there is a competition there as well. This is important for everybody. But if Senator Klobuchar disappoints, and she feels -- we'll see happens -- she feels she actually is building some momentum to try get into the top four. How many tickets do you get out of Iowa? That's tough.

BLITZER: Dana Bash has got special guest with her up on Capitol Hill. Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I have Senator Angus King of Maine. Thank you so much. You just put out a statement. You just came up to me and told me how upset you are about the big news this afternoon, which is the witness vote that failed.

SEN. ANGUS KING (I-ME): I've been taking notes through this whole thing. I wrote twice in my notes as I was listening to the arguments, how can anybody possibly vote against this? My court wouldn't run like this. I mean, it's preposterous, particularly where you have a guy standing there saying, I'm prepared to give substantive important evidence and I don't know how you go home and say, I didn't want to hear anything.

[18:35:00] I mean, it was -- the vote itself is sort of anti-climactic because we heard that Lisa Murkowski and Lamar Alexander weren't going to vote. I kept thinking -- I honestly thought during the debate, this is going to change some minds. Some people over there are going to say, I just can't do this. But they did.

BASH: Did you also -- The New York Times reported another part of what they have seen or at least have heard about in the transcript of the Bolton book. Was there any discussion, any scuttlebutt that maybe that could change any minds?

A. KING: Well, Adam Schiff brought it up in his argument. He mentioned the more recent story but it didn't seem to affect anybody. Again, I thought -- well, here is the thing. It's all going to come out. So people who voted no, what if it comes out and it's really damning, and it just confirms everything? They're going to say, well, I voted no, knowing that it might come out, and I'm going to acquit. And I didn't really want the information. I just don't know how you justify that.

I can understand there's a legitimate debate about whether this is impeachable and those kinds of things. But to say, but we don't want the evidence just doesn't pass straight face test.

BASH: And this is unprecedented in a lot of ways. But the biggest is that we're in an election year. So it might not matter with regard to the impeachment trial, but how much, based on what you're hearing back home, will it matter with regard to public opinion and therefore votes in November?

A. KING: Well, I can tell you that people in Maine were absolutely for witnesses.

BASH: And your Republican colleague voted that way, Susan Collins.

A. KING: And she voted that way. And that was certainly what I was hearing. But you've seen the polls, 75 percent nationwide, 51 percent on Republicans. And I just think it gets bound to be an issue for those folks who voted no, that are, no, I can't speak to what the campaign is going to be like at any given place. But I can figure out neither the merits nor the politics of it.

BASH: Senator, thank you so much for stopping. I appreciate it.

A. KING: Always a pleaure.

BASH: Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We've got a lot going on. We're waiting for the Senate to resume the trial of the president of the United States. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:40:00]

TAPPER: Welcome back. Impeachments, of course, happen in a vacuum and we are already starting to see some of the very many ripples from this one. We see on Twitter that the head of the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, which is a big event for conservatives in politics every year, has just announced that Mitt Romney is formally not invited. Romney's offense is that he voted for more witnesses. We do not know yet how he was going to vote on acquittal next week.

And in addition, we're also told from our own Kylie Atwood at the State Department that Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who was on a leave of sorts after she was so ignominiously removed from her post, the former ambassador to Ukraine, she has retired. She is the fourth Senior State Department official to leave during this Ukraine impeachment inquiry, according to our own Kylie Atwood.

Let's bring in Alan Frumin, the former Senate Parliamentarian, who can give us some more on the lay of the land of what to expect going forward. Alan, I guess next we're going to have a vote on the motion on how to proceed, and then there will be some Democratic amendments? Is that what you gather from this?

ALAN FRUMIN, SENATE PARLIAMENTARIAN EMERITUS: Well, the lay of the land is typically unpredictable.

TAPPER: Right.

FRUMIN: There really is no lay of the land of which I'm aware at this point. Majority Leader McConnell can offer another resolution similar to the one that we're operating under, but that resolution is amendable. And it's amendable under the impeachment rules without limit. Every amendment, every resolution is subject to two hours of argument.

And so the Democrats have the opportunity to express themselves. They know they've lost the critical vote on hearing witnesses. They still want to make their case. And the way they make their case is by offering amendments, and there's really no limitation, no subject matter limitation to the content of those amendments.

I don't know how frustrated they might feel, how angry they might be. The extent to which they will look to push the envelope on these amendments, but in typical Senate fashion, the roadmap is murky, it's loaded with potholes, and nobody really knows where it's going to lead.

BLITZER: Well, if anybody knows what's going on, it's Manu Raju, Alan. I want to bring in Manu. Manu, you've been breaking the news all night -- well, he's not ready yet, but, Jake, Manu is doing an amazing job reporting that there will be amendments tonight and there will be discussion Monday and Tuesday.

And, Manu, you reported that a final vote on acquittal of the president is coming Wednesday.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's coming Wednesday. And I was just told by Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, remember, the Republican leadership, that's going to be at 4:00 P.M. Eastern, the vote on Wednesday to acquit the president. Of course, there will be two separate votes, one is on abuse of power and the one on the other vote of obstruction of Congress. Of course, the president will be cleared on both. We'll see if any Republicans defect.

I just asked Lisa Murkowski, the Republican who has been a swing vote but voted against moving forward on witnesses. What her decision was she only told me that she had made a decision but she would not say what the decision was in terms of the acquittal of the president.

[18:45:03]

What her decision was, she only told me that she had made a decision, but she would not say what the decision was in terms of the acquittal of the president.

Susan Collins of Maine, the president who is one of two Republicans who broke ranks, and is -- would not answer my question about what her -- if she has made a decision on acquitting the president.

Mitt Romney, also, I asked him as well. He also declined to comment. He said he wasn't going to discuss whether he made his own decision on acquitting the president.

But, first, there will be some procedural matters that will take place on the floor. Democrats tonight will push forward amendments that they believe will push for what they are calling a fair trial. They're going to offer four amendments on the floor of the Senate today.

We don't know the contents of those amendments yet, but there are four amendments that they will offer and there will be another fifth vote that will occur on a resolution that Mitch McConnell is going to offer, and that resolution essentially sets the ground rules for the final steps of the trial here, which would include a Monday closing arguments on both sides and then senators would also be allowed separately to make their case, make their own speeches for up to 15 minutes each starting on Monday, continuing into Tuesday, as well as Wednesday, and then Wednesday afternoon is that acquittal vote I was talking about where the president's trial will finally be over.

And, of course, that will come a day after the State of the Union. The White House has been pushing to get this done before the State of the Union. I asked Roy Blunt why not go through the night, why not push through the weekend to get this done by the State of the Union.

He said it was the belief of Mitch McConnell's office that they would not be able to do that, because Democrats have within their power, the ability to drag it out past the State of the Union, and they were not willing to concede on that point. So that's why we're seeing that ultimate agreement that's been reached between Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer for a final vote to occur on Wednesday.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Just walk us through what's going to happen tonight once the Senate gets back in session.

RAJU: Yes, we expect them at 7:00 Eastern to begin to get back into session, and then at that point, Mitch McConnell will offer his resolution that will set the groundwork for the end of the trial, and the Democrats will have the opportunity to amend that resolution.

Now, they'll have, as I said, four amendments. Each of those amendments have up to two hours of debate on both sides. So, presumably, this could take a long time.

Now, we're not expecting that. I'm told from Republican senators that they've been told by the Democrats that they're not going to use all of their time. We'll see if they decide to do that and the defense team which will argue the Republicans case is not -- they're not planning on using all of their time either.

So, we're expecting a late night tonight. Not as late as the last few nights. Potentially, there's some expectation in the Senate right now, 9:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m. Eastern, when they can finish everything up tonight. We'll see if that's how -- as you know, the schedule here slides pretty easily and pretty quickly, but senators are also very tired, ready to get home. We know what the outcome is going to be into all these votes.

So, there will be votes on the floor for amendments, one on the resolution to end, that would set the stage for ending the trial and then, ultimately, they'll be wrapped up. They'll be done for the weekend and then they'll come back on Monday to finish these last steps before the president is acquitted next week.

TAPPER: And, Manu, our viewers will be shocked to learn that oftentimes politicians in the Congress, in the House and the Senate introduce new resolutions, and the only purpose of them is to embarrass the other party. Not that that's what's going on here tonight.

But do you have any idea what the Democratic resolutions are going to be. Are they just going to try to get -- draw out in more specific terms what the Republicans voting against additional witnesses and against additional documents, more specifically what they're voting against hearing from?

RAJU: Yes, they're certainly going to try to score some points on these votes. That, of course, happens all the time up on the hill. Both sides do it. Democrats do it now.

Now, what they're not allowed to do is offer more amendments to subpoena witnesses or subpoena documents because under the resolution that is currently governing the Senate trial, it does not allow for further votes on motions to subpoena witnesses and documents. If that first vote that happened this evening to fail, which it did, to move forward on witnesses and documents, that failed along party lines.

Now, the Democrats can't go forward on that aspect but they can go forward on other aspects of the trial, that they believe would showcase a fair trial to move forward. Now, I don't know the contents of it yet. Democrats are not saying exactly what that will be. So, it will be a bit of a surprise when Chuck Schumer will read allowed, send the amendments to the desk, allow the chief justice to essentially present it to the members, and then both sides make their arguments and then the senators vote. But yes, the outcome will be party-line vote after party-line vote and

will set the stage for that acquittal vote next week.

TAPPER: All right. We're going to squeeze in one more quick break. We'll be right back with more of our coverage of the Senate impeachment trial.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:54:32]

BLITZER: All right. We're told the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump will resume at the top of the hour.

Dana Bash is up on Capitol Hill.

Dana, what are you learning?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the questions that you all were discussing there with this news that Manu and Phil broke is if the arguments really are happening on Monday, Iowa caucus day, what happens to the four senators who are running for president who would want to be in Iowa?

My understanding is that unlike what we've seen for the past two weeks, which was pretty much mandatory for the senators/jurors to be here, that it won't be as strict.

[18:55:09]

It's not entirely clear how it's going to work. But my understanding in talking to people who were involved in this is that they feel pretty comfortable that they can -- that these candidates can be in Iowa for most of if not all of the day, because the debate and the discussion will continue on for a couple of days. And it's obviously Wednesday is the key day where they will have to vote on both articles of impeachment -- Wolf and Jake.

BLITZER: Yes.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Just, Dana, if the Senate is in session for -- and the chief justice is presiding, they're in impeachment. What Manu described was that that would be the time when they're actually in impeachment session.

TAPPER: In Monday night, when it's closing arguments.

SANTORUM: Then recess and be in regular Senate session, chief justice wouldn't be there, and you're right, the other senators wouldn't have to be there. But when they're in impeachment, they'd have to have something in the new resolution that would exempt or change the Senate rule which is overriding rule, that says they have to be there seated and all the other things. So --

BASH: Perhaps.

SANTORUM: The question is, is that -- is that what's happening here?

BASH: Perhaps. But there's a growing level of confidence from these people who are in and around running for Senate who that feel that they can make it to Iowa.

BLITZER: It's interesting, you know, John King, that on Wednesday, now we're told approximately 4:00 p.m. eastern on Wednesday, the president of the United States, this trial will wrap up, he will be acquitted, he will not be removed from office. That will be a victory for the president of the United States.

But for the rest of his life people are also going to remember, he was impeached by the House of Representatives.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He was and as Nancy Pelosi kept saying, because she understood, once the House was done, what the outcome was going to be in the Senate, forever, forever, forever is the word she used whenever she gets the opportunity to talk about this. The Democrats are going to make the case that the acquittal is not real because they'll say its' a sham trial, because they didn't call witnesses.

That's the beginning of the political debate that we will get. We're in a political debate now. Once you have the verdict, 4:00 p.m., I think the lead of "THE LEAD" is pretty well set for that day. You know, once you get that vote and then everybody who's made these arguments throughout the trial will take a breath and try to figure out, OK, what would the polls show, how's the president reacting, what's happening out on the campaign trail, and we will see the post- trial political debate begin.

And that debate is likely to change. It will be raw and rough and loud for the early days, and then the question is how long does it last and what do the American people, especially the small group of people who are actually in play in a presidential election, Senate races are different, what do they think about it? And guess what, that will be incredibly, intensely studied by all the campaigns.

TAPPER: So, Gloria, I understand the argument that Nancy Pelosi and Schumer will soon make this if he hasn't already, that this is not an exoneration because the trial wasn't fair. I get that, that's political argument, people can make that.

But this idea that Trump is impeached, that will forever be on his record -- well, I know of another guy who was impeached and he spoke at every single Democratic National Convention since he was impeached.

BORGER: Right. And he could get reelected --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: So, I don't know if it has the taint that people think.

And if Democrats can't make that argument and still revere Bill Clinton the way they do. I mean they can, everybody does, it's two- faced, but --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, that's a good point, and these are Democrats to Bill Clinton and these will be Republicans with Donald Trump. And I think this shows you, what we've seen in the Senate, is the complete takeover of the Republican Party by Donald Trump, and there are people save for a couple who refused to cross him even though they are saying what he did was wrong or inartful or tasteless or unseemly or whatever word you want to -- whatever word you want to use.

I think that's one of the big takeaways from this, which is a different party that will pay fealty to Donald Trump no matter what. And so, I do think that, like with Bill Clinton, people will continue to pay homage to him, because they believe that even if he was wrong, that it didn't rise to the level of impeachment, and they agree about what he's done for the country, and that this will move on.

And John Bolton details will continue to pour out, will continue to be talked about. And that will become issue number one somewhere down the road, and will continue to be an issue in this campaign, whomever the Democratic nominee is will use against him and --

BLITZER: I want to point out, John King, you'll have a special "INSIDE POLITICS" from Des Moines, Iowa, Sunday morning, 8:00 a.m. Eastern, right?

KING: Sunday morning and then talk to some guy --

BLITZER: And tell us about "STATE OF THE UNION", 9:00 a.m. from Des Moines, Iowa.

TAPPER: We'll have Republican Senator Joni Ernst from Iowa and, of course, Pete Buttigieg, and there might be other Democratic presidential candidates as well.

Erin Burnett is coming up right now at the top of the hour. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you next time.