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Iowa Caucuses Tonight; Interview with Sen. Michael Bennet (D- CO); Senate Impeachment Closing Arguments To Be Presented Today. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 3, 2020 - 10:30   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're just hours away, now, from the official kickoff of the 2020 election, which of course, as we know, is the Iowa caucuses.

Now, tonight, Iowa Democrats will deliver the nation's first verdict on the 2020 race. It will probably come late in the night or early tomorrow morning, by the way.

Now, those Democratic presidential candidates spent the weekend racing across the 99 counties in the state, holding rallies, interviews, making their final pitch to voters. Here's what Joe Biden told NBC this morning.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If this were a third term for Barack Obama, would he say it's a risky choice?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Is that how you see it, a third term for Barak Obama?

BIDEN: No. My point is, I see it as moving on from what we started.

I think, look, the -- one of the reasons I'm running is because of my experience. Who's going to be ready on day one to pick up the phone and call any world leader and they know who he is and he knows who they are?


CUOMO: All right, CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us from the hustings in Des Moines, Iowa. Hey, bud. How are you doing, what are you seeing?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris, we're doing really well. A little bit chillier here, today at Des Moines, than it was yesterday. But weather shouldn't be an impediment to getting voters out to the caucus sites tonight.

This is really just going to be about turnout and really, making the case that their candidates can beat Donald Trump. You know, I've talked to a lot of Democratic voters over the past year, and they're -- they all will pick a different policy issue that's most important to them. The one big unifying message is that they want a candidate that can beat Donald Trump.

And you saw here, in the closing days of this campaign, all these different candidates making that case, that they have the best skillset to take on Donald Trump in November.

And Mayor Pete Buttigieg is, in many ways, trying to show that he is the candidate that is down the middle in terms of the two sides of the Democratic spectrum. Listen to his argument here to Iowa voters here, in the closing days of the campaign, as to why he would be the best choice to take on Donald Trump.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), FORMER MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Certainly, Senator Sanders' message is more along the lines of, hey, it's either status quo or revolution. And what I'm offering is something that I think more people can see where they fit, from dyed-in-the-wool Democrats to independents to these -- I like to call them "future former Republicans."

We understand that even if we're not going to agree on everything, we can agree on the need for a change --


NOBLES: But, Chris, the argument that the Sanders campaign would make is that the energy and enthusiasm in the Democratic Party is in the progressive wing of the party, and that you're going to need every available Democrat to come out and vote in November, and that's what it's going to take to beat Donald Trump.

Both of those arguments, on the table here tonight in Iowa and we'll have to see who comes out on top -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

All right, joining us now, Colorado senator, presidential candidate Senator Michael Bennet. Good to see you, Senator.


CUOMO: Thank you very much. Pleasure.

BENNET: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: How are you doing out there?

BENNET: Well, I'm not competing in Iowa really --

CUOMO: Because? BENNET: I ran out of money. So I'm in New Hampshire, and I've spent more time in New Hampshire than any other candidate. I'm in the middle, actually at the end of a round of 50 town halls that I've been doing up there --

CUOMO: Right.

BENNET: -- and we'll see happens next Tuesday.

CUOMO: Now, we're watching -- together, obviously -- the proceeding that you'll be part of today. Here's the chief justice, Senator -- coming in now. And he will obviously preside. There was always this little question, will he get involved? It seems like no, at this point. And you were saying this has become tough for you, to observe around?

BENNET: I just think it's pitiful, what's happened here. You've got -- you now have more than half of the Senate saying what Donald Trump did was wrong. When you add up the Republicans that said what he did was wrong to the Democrats that say what he did was wrong, and yet we didn't have the decency to have documents and witnesses in this trial for the American people? Not for the senators' convenience, but for the American people to be able to know what actually happened here.

And we got -- the truth's going to have to come out one way or another, it just seems ridiculous for it to come out after we're making the decision rather than before.

CUOMO: How do you feel about the Republican pushback of, should have done it in the House?

BENNET: I think the president stonewalled the House of Representatives in a way that was completely unprecedented. Richard Nixon didn't do what Donald Trump did. Trump didn't allow them to have a single witness, didn't allow them to have a single document. And it was up to the Senate to say, we're going to do better than that.

You know, these people now that are saying, oh, you know, it was a partisan impeachment in the House, it was partisan because they couldn't get any cooperation from the White House. And the Senate had the opportunity to do something nonpartisan, bipartisan, and we refused to do it.

CUOMO: They keep quoting the Federalist Paper 65, Alexander Hamilton, and saying, see? This is what he was worried about, partisan numbers game, where that creates the outcome.


They're right, but they're misapplying it. What they did in the Senate -- by the way, because that's what Hamilton was talking about, he wasn't talking about the House, he was talking about the Senate -- you can't say that you think he did something wrong and say, but I'm not going to give anybody access to the proof of the same.

BENNET: You also can't say it's too partisan and then just make it more partisan.

CUOMO: That's right.

BENNET: I mean, it's an irrational point of view. And unfortunately, Mitch McConnell made a decision that we knew he had made at the outset which was, I'm going to help cover up what the president did. And I don't think, in the end, that will be successful. I think by the time we're voting, the American people are going to know what Donald Trump did.

But that doesn't solve the problem of our checks and balances and the responsibility that the Congress has to stand up to a tyrant, you know, or a president that's acting in a tyrannical way. That is what the founders were worried about.

And, you know, there's a lot of talk about King George and all this stuff. The people the founders were looking at -- looking over their shoulder at, were the Roman emperors --

CUOMO: Right.

BENNET: -- that destroyed the Roman -- marched on Rome, turned their armies on Rome. And those characters were just like Donald Trump, you know? He'll probably take that as a compliment. But that's who the founders were worried about. And we failed, in our moment to live up to their aspirations.

CUOMO: And they trusted the founders, that people in your position would do it in a better way than England did at the time, which was chopping the guy's head off.

BENNET: Right.

CUOMO: The -- all right. So you're not in Iowa, you're in New Hampshire. I wanted people to understand why. The idea of you guys figuring out the best person to beat Trump, do you really believe that's what your primary has been about so far?

BENNET: I believe that is the number one concern of people, and that's why this -- the -- I'm sorry, the race is so unresolved at this moment. Because nobody knows --

CUOMO: Right.

BENNET: -- they can't figure it out, you know? The people that are the leading candidates, people are having second thoughts about the people that are -- you know, people like me, they haven't had first thoughts about. And so they're trying to figure it out.

And in New Hampshire, I would say people are less decided today than they were six weeks ago, and I think they're asking the right question, which is, who can beat Donald Trump.

I happen to believe, coming from Colorado, a swing state in the middle of the country, with an agenda that can unify people is -- I'm the right person to beat Donald Trump. Other people may have different points of view.

I think people in Iowa and New Hampshire should vote for who they think can beat Trump because this guy cannot be -- we cannot re-elect him.

CUOMO: Well, it'll be interesting because if your party doesn't figure out how to do exactly that instead of having -- which you rightly called out, during one of the early debates -- about this granular discussion about health care when the guy you're running against --

BENNET: Exactly.

CUOMO: -- isn't even going to talk about his plan, you've got to figure that out otherwise your party may not wind up in a position to battle who they're going against. Senator --

BENNET: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: -- Bennet from Colorado, I wish you good luck.

BENNET: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: -- going forward in New Hampshire, and I'll be talking to you again.

BENNET: Thanks.

CUOMO: All right. All right, let's get back to you in New York, Erin.



And so still ahead, the impeachment trial, we are counting down, anticipated to begin any moment, of course. You've got Iowa going on, and you've got this. A crucial question that remains unanswered: What to do about John Bolton? The next question is whether the House will subpoena the former national security advisor after the trial ends, and what we could find out if they do.


BURNETT: President Trump's Senate impeachment trial, beginning its final stage today in Washington. And this is the closing statements.

The investigation, though, is far from over for the president because new evidence -- right? -- has -- they didn't allow it in the Senate. And now it is starting to come out, more and more of it. It is not clear, though, how much will be revealed in National Security Advisor John Bolton's book.

Lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff is refusing, though, to lay out what his future plans are to hear from Bolton. Here is what he told CBS when asked if he plans a subpoena for him in the House. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), LEAD IMPEACHMENT MANAGER: I don't want to comment, at this point, on what our plans may or may not be with respect to John Bolton. But I will say this, whether it's in testimony before the House or it's in his book or it's in one form or another, the truth will come out as -- will continue to come out.


BURNETT: All right. Obviously, Schiff not directly -- doesn't want to go there. So the question is, will we hear from John Bolton and what else will we find out?

Jeff, let me start with you on this because there is John Bolton and whether they could legitimately subpoena him under House Oversight --


BURNETT: -- without having an impeachment trial going on, obviously. And then there's all the other information that keeps coming out.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, it didn't get a lot of attention. But at the end of last week, late at night, the administration revealed that there are at least 24 e-mails that directly bear on the question of the president's involvement in this whole Ukraine initiative --

BURNETT: Right, and specifically what role he played in delaying it --

TOOBIN: -- in delaying.

BURNETT: -- and his purpose, yes.

TOOBIN: I mean, think about conducting an investigation of this very subject, and not looking at the e-mails. I mean, it just underlines what a sham investigation this was by the Senate because they made no effort to get this. If you were doing a real investigation, you would start with those e-mails.

Now, John Bolton is also in the position of, he has not received clearance yet to publish his book, because he signed a pre-publication review agreement. So, you know, the publication date is scheduled for March 17th, that's not necessarily going to happen.

I don't see any way -- or let me put it affirmatively -- I think the House will definitely subpoena Bolton to testify. Why wouldn't you?



TOOBIN: I mean, he has valuable information about a subject of great interest, I think that's a certainty.

BURNETT: And beyond that, of course, it all comes down to timing. More information is going to come out.


BURNETT: You have Lamar Alexander and others like him, Republicans, who say, look, I already know what happened, I don't need an investigation because I know he's guilty, but I don't think he should be punished for it.


BURNETT: But we're going to get all this information. The question is when? How long --


BURNETT: -- does it come out?

GOLODRYGA: Sooner than they think, right? And they know a lot of this information is going to be damning for the president, and so people like Lamar Alexander, with his argument, is, I know I don't need another ninth person to tell me what eight people have already told me.

That's fine, but you can't make the same argument that, no, we're not going to hear from other witnesses if your follow-up is, then it's up to the American people. Because if that's what your argument is, that it's up to the American people to decide whether this president should be impeached or shouldn't be re-elected because of his actions, then they should be privy to witness information as well. The American people haven't heard everything, they may not be convinced to the extent that he is.

TOOBIN: But which is it? Is Lamar Alexander right that this was inappropriate but not impeachable? Or is Donald Trump right that it was perfect?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, this is the problem with this whole story, which is that you've had the most -- an unprecedented presidential cover-up in an impeachment inquiry, unprecedented. How can the American people judge if they don't have access to the information? And that's why Chairman Schiff has an obligation, actually, to subpoena Mr. Bolton --

BURNETT: And the question is whether politically it moves the needle. To your point, right? The impeachment's now going to be in the rearview mirror. But as this comes out --

NAFTALI: I like to also look at the medium and long-term.


NAFTALI: One of the things you want to do is make sure presidents don't think they can get away with things. And the way to make sure they don't get away with things, is that the record becomes transparent and open at some point.

We don't want the Trump administration to destroy records, so more should be subpoenaed, more should be protected --

BURNETT: You think record destruction is a risk --


NAFTALI: I'm convinced it's a risk. I'm convinced because it would be the first -- certainly, in the Nixon impeachment process, the Nixon White House did try to destroy things. Fortunately for all of us, there was just too much paper to destroy.

But we live in an electronic world, so I think it's really important for the House to protect and also people around -- in the country, through Freedom of Information Act requests, protect as many documents as possible by identifying them and subpoenaing them.

BURNETT: And I do just want to make the point here, as I give it back to you, Chris, that a lot of this information that we're getting is coming from those Freedom of Information Act requests. That's actually how we're getting it. So people understand, it's -- this is a process of a lot of people who are playing into how any of this is seeing the light of day.

CUOMO: Look, and the problem with that is why it's been necessary. You have an executive that we haven't seen operate this way before, whether you want to talk about Watergate or Clinton, we've never seen a president shut down every avenue of discovery that they can.


CUOMO: So let's go to break here, on this idea. It is the beginning of the end for President Trump's impeachment trial, although this matter will live on to and through Election Day, bet on that.


Closing arguments just minutes away, and we're also expecting to hear from the senators. Find out who will be watching and why, next.


CUOMO: Just minutes away, literally. Usually it's about 11:0- something Eastern, that this starts. The House managers, the president's defense team will start delivering closing arguments. After that, it will be the senators' turn to speak. CNN's Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill. Who are you looking at and why?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, I'm going to be looking to see what the Democrats say. Some of those undecided Democrats, Chris, people like Kyrsten Sinema, who has been very silent throughout this entire process, on whether or not she will vote to remove the president or not.

Also, looking out for Doug Jones, who's up for re-election this year in the state of Alabama -- of course, a very conservative state to be running for re-election as a Democrat -- as well as someone like Joe Manchin, who's not up for re-election but has an independent streak, doesn't always vote with the Democratic caucus.

On the Republican side, a couple of key voices to be looking out for. Susan Collins, who is up for re-election in 2020, she of course voted in support of witnesses along with Mitt Romney. He's another person to be looking at.

And then, of course, Lamar Alexander, who was the most-watched member last week. We were all anticipating whether or not he was going to vote to support witnesses or not. He ultimately voted against witnesses, and of course said that even though he thought the president's whole -- everything that has happened over the last year was inappropriate, he said it wasn't enough to rise to the level of removing him from office -- Chris.

CUOMO: He didn't just say it was inappropriate. You're right, Lauren. He then said, the Democrats made their case. And I think he led the way, not just for the vote on witnesses, but you're going to hear a lot of Republican senators today say, oh, it was wrong, I would have never done it, he should have done it a different way, but -- dot dot dot -- and that's going to be interesting. Lauren Fox, thank you.


Now, coming up, we've been showing you live pictures. You just saw Senator Bernie Sanders and his wife coming in. We'll have more of CNN's special coverage of President Trump's impeachment trial, just literally minutes away from the start of the closing arguments. Stay with CNN.


CUOMO: All right. Chris Cuomo here for you in Washington with Erin Burnett. Welcome to our special coverage of the impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump. Erin, you're in New York, I'm here in D.C. but we're both watching the same thing.

BURNETT: That we are. And we can see it on the screen. Obviously, you know, we're just moments away from the gaveling in of the session.


And, Chris, you know, I mean, this is the closing arguments, right? And it's going to be what we've already heard. Obviously, though you're going to get these two hours of the very best they --