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Impeachment Trial: House Managers Present Closing Arguments In Senate Trial; Soon: President Trump's Defense Team Delivers Closing Arguments. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired February 3, 2020 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00]

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Who said this on the day that the Speaker announced at the beginning of the impeachment inquiry. As elected representatives he said of the American people we speak not only for those who are here with us now but generations yet unborn.

Our voices today are messages to our future we may never see. When the history books are written about this tumultuous era, I want them to show that I was among those in the House of Representatives who stood up to lawlessness and tyranny. We the Managers are not here representing ourselves alone or even just the House just as you are not here making determination as the President's guilt or innocence for yourselves alone.

Now you and we represent the American people, the ones at home and at work who are hoping that their country will remain what it's always believed it to be, a beacon of hope of democracy and of inspiration to those striving around the world to create their own more perfect unions.

For those who are standing up to lawlessness and to tyranny, Donald Trump has betrayed his oath to protect and defend the constitution, but it's not too late for us to honor ours, to wield our power to defend our democracy.

As President Abraham Lincoln said at the close of his Cooper Union Address on February 27th, 1816, neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the government nor of dungeons to ourselves, let us have faith that fight makes might and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as you understand it.

Today we urge you in the face of overwhelming evidence of the President's guilt, and knowing that if left in office he will continue to seek foreign interference in the next election, devote to convict on both articles of impeachment and to remove from office Donald J. Trump the 45th President of the United States. Mr. Chief justice, we reserve the balance of our time.

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

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Mr. Chief Justice, colleagues will take a 30-minute break for lunch.

ROBERTS: Without objection, so ordered.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: And they are taking a lunch break. What's interesting here let me go straight to you, Jeff Toobin? You now have heard the Democrats, the Managers, make their case. They had two hours to do so and they did not even use a full hour, just under a full hour.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I think they know what the Senators have heard. I mean that this is familiar news to them at this point, and I think it is probably wise that they don't need to revisit this issue. They know that the President is going to be acquitted at the end of this vote, and I think they are finishing on a high road, that they are not going to belabor these issues more than they have in the past. They do have the chance to reply. They will get the last word after the--

BURNETT: Right so they have over an hour, about an hour and 4 minutes, by my count, to do so if they chose?

TOOBIN: Tight. But you know these were very competent speeches, but I think there is an element at this point of phoning it in. They've given it their best shot, they lose on witnesses, they're going to lose on acquittal, and I think they want to go out on a dignified note.

BURNETT: And you know just to make a point here, obviously, not all of them spoke. Of course--

TOOBIN: Right.

BURNETT: --Jerry Nadler is not there, his wife is ill, but you had Congressman Crow, Chairman Schiff, Congresswoman Demings and Congressman Jeffries. So those were the four to make their case and they did not start with Schiff no Lofgren, no Garcia and obviously no Nadler.

TOOBIN: But I think they've recognized that you know the Senators have heard their pitch, and they have rejected it. And their appeal is now to the public. I think they recognize in the middle of the day they're not going to persuade uncounted millions of people who haven't heard this story before.

So I think they are going out on the high road. I anticipate that in the response to the defense arguments, you'll see a little more fire, particularly probably from Adam Schiff. But for this initial presentation, they thought less is more, and I think that's probably wise.

BURNETT: And of course as Chairman Schiff, who is obviously the Lead Manager, finishing it up, going the shortest amount of time and invoking Abraham Lincoln and Cooper Union.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, he's trying to remind, I think, the Senators that they have a historic responsibility that this is not just an issue of acquitting one man that this is a question of setting a standard to set for the future.

And that may be what they return to, by the way, at the end when they listen to the President's defenders. Are we going to live in a country where Presidents can assume that they can abuse power and not pay a constitutional price?

[12:05:00]

NAFTALI: The House Managers actually succeeded in one way. Their narrative was accepted by many in the Senate.

BURNETT: In terms of he was guilty of what he was accused of doing?

NAFTALI: But that's a big deal. Now what is the consequence? Is the consequence, that's okay, or as Mick Mulvaney would say, get over it? Or is the consequence, we need to think through what abuse of power is and how we don't like it? And we'll see what the Managers say at the end when they listen to the President's vote?

BURNETT: Bianna, of course now we're on a lunch break which we anticipate will be just under 30 minutes from now. And then you're going to hear the Republicans come in.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right.

BURNETT: And of course the question is going to be on Team Trump what argument they make. They have put many forward, right? From perfect call, let's the voters decide, to what it has to be a statutory crime. Or do they do them all?

GOLODRYGA: Look, I think that something that they've been going back time and time again is that this is an election year and it is up to voters. And it is something that we heard from Lamar Alexander and something that we heard from Joni Ernst. I was surprised that we didn't hear from the House Managers about the comments that we heard over the weekend from those Senators.

In particular where they admitted that what the President did was wrong and that they would not acted that way--

BURNETT: Like Lamar Alexander was so direct.

GOLODRYGA: Exactly. That having been said, Joni Ernst saying and being asked, well what happens if the President does it again? And her answer, well he knows better or he'll call the FBI. I'm surprised that the Managers didn't invoke that.

That having been said I think given that they've had all of their time over the past week and a half, they knew that everything that they've delivered the Senators had absorbed at that point, it was a cliffs notes version as you persisted where you had them reminding people of what Ukraine means to the United States, being invaded by an adversary.

And then I thought it was actually poignant to hear from Adam Schiff naming his staffers and talking about the level of un-civility, incivility, whatever the word is, in the country right now, and how these are brilliant people who are hard working and have had their lives threatened and grotesque things happening and saying that that is just not acceptable in this country.

TOOBIN: I do think also you will see the defense also not take the first two hours. There is an old saying in politics no politician ever lost an election for something they didn't say in the campaign. In other words, if you don't say anything, you can't be criticized for it.

I think the less - the defense lawyers have won this case. They've won on witnesses they've won on the merits. There is nothing they need to persuade anymore. So you should just sit down and shut up.

BURNETT: Although Adam Schiff did - you know he won on convincing many Republican Senators that the President did - they decided, okay, he did what he did and he did what you said he did, and we don't need anyone to tell us what he did because we know he did what he did, thank you Adam Schiff we just don't think it's impeachable. Does Schiff feel a sense of vindication about that at all?

TOOBIN: I can't answer that. There is certainly an element of vindication there. What will be particularly interesting over the next three days when we start to hear the Republicans explain their vote is how many of them go the Lamar Alexander rule and say, inappropriate but not impeachable, and how many of them go, perfect phone call route.

Those are very different ways of voting the same way, and that will be significant to know how many go in each direction.

BURNETT: And that's the crucial thing where, did Adam Schiff move the needle and the other Managers on that? Manu Raju is with us as well. Manu, as they filed out obviously not using all the time and less than many had anticipated. Although obviously now they can reserve it and use it again when team Trump has made their argument.

You've had a chance to talk to some of the Senators as they filed out for lunch and what have you heard?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes a lot of them are not going the route of Lamar Alexander saying that the President did something wrong but it did not rise to the level of impeachment.

I did catch up with one Senator Lisa Murkowski who did of course vote against moving forward witnesses. I asked her if she agreed with what Lamar Alexander had to say that the President's conduct was inappropriate.

She said, I would concur. Now she would not say her vote would alter than they be about conviction or acquittal. She said she's made up her mind but wouldn't go further than that. But I did catch up with other Republican Senators who are not agreeing with Lamar Alexander saying the President did nothing wrong.

They say the President was acting within his rights so watch for that division to play out. And when I talk to one Republican Marsha Blackburn, who is close to President Trump, she would not criticize his conduct.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Lamar Alexander said he had conditioners about the President's conduct. Did you have any concerns about the President's conduct as far as you came to Ukraine?

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN: You know we want to make certain that we finish up this impeachment, that we move away from this and that we get back to things that people want to focus on.

[12:10:00]

BLACKBURN: And we always want to be certain that people act appropriately within their offices.

RAJU: Senator what do you think of Lamar Alexander saying that the President did not act appropriately. Do you agree with that?

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): My argument has to do with the merits of the case.

RAJU: What do you think of Lamar Alexander saying that the President did not act appropriately? Do you agree with that?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): That's Lamar's opinion.

RAJU: You said you don't right?

LANKFORD: I don't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So that second Senator was Thom Tillis of North Carolina Republican who is up for reelection in a difficult reelection race. And he has of course aligned himself increasingly with President Trump and he has defended the President's actions.

We have not yet seen any of these vulnerable Republican Senators break ranks and strongly criticize the President the way that Lamar Alexander has. We'll wait to see what Susan Collins of Maine ultimately has to say she voted, of course, for witnesses.

She has not said how she'll come down in that ultimate vote. And we expect those comments to be made by these Senators on the floor starting to this afternoon and into Wednesday. Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Manu, you know stay with us as you get more information. Tim, one thing though when you hear Susan Collins obviously Susan Collins and Mitt Romney voted for more witnesses and then in the procedural votes about witnesses in the resolution on how they were going to conduct the end of this trial, they continue to vote for John Bolton specifically. Susan Collins said she didn't care how long it took she wanted Senators to have a chance to make their speeches. Mitch McConnell didn't want any of this. He wanted all this done on Friday night. So the reason we're here and the Senators have a chance to go to the floor some of them obviously don't even won it, is because of Susan Collins and Mitt Romney.

NAFTALI: Yes. Well, you know when this all started, it became clear that Mitch McConnell didn't have an iron grip on his caucus. After all, Mitch McConnell floated a Senate resolution that in the end he had to alter. In fact not only did he have to alter it, he did it by hand.

So it's clear that he had a couple of recalcitrant swing Senators, if you will - I wouldn't say moderate but swing Senators that he's been trying to keep together with the rest. And they had an effect. The problem is not much of an effect, because in the end, John Bolton did not have to testify.

So it's clear that not every Senator followed Mitch McConnell's approach and we'll see that when they start giving their speeches. But my fear, my great concern, okay, is that this important distinction that the President did something wrong is going to get lost.

And that if we have only two Senators or three Senators saying that in the end, it won't be part of the legacy of this experience that the legacy of this experience is the President can do what he wants in foreign policy and he's not going to pay a price. And I think that would be very dangerous for this country.

TOOBIN: But boy, I just - I disagree about Mitch McConnell. I think this is a triumph for Mitch McConnell, this whole operation. This ranks right up there, or down there, depending on your perspective, with his refusal to give Merrick Garland a vote. The fact that he managed to avoid witnesses, get a prompt acquittal, this just shows his incredible control of his caucus.

BURNETT: All right, okay.

NAFTALI: In the end he got it, but he had to work at it. I'm sure we'll find out--

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: All right, and we're just going to get in a quick break here as the Senators are expected to come back into session in just a few moments after a quick lunch break. More of our live breaking news coverage continues after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:15:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: So where are we? Right now it's a lunch break somewhere 30 minutes 45 minutes in the air. We'll see we'll follow on the live pictures. As you see as the Senators reconvene, you'll see the House Managers come in, you will see the defendants come in, Counsel. But we're looking for the Chief Justice, obviously, because he has to be there. He will reinitiate the process.

Now why did I mention the House Managers? They're done, aren't they? No. One of the ways that this process is similar to a real trial and I emphasize that a lot because this has not been a trial I don't care how often they use the word. You don't have witnesses, you don't have a trial.

But one of the ways it's similar is that the prosecution, which is technically the House Managers, they go last if they want to. So they had a chance to reserve some of their time, and you heard them say that at the end, we reserve the balance of our time.

That means that after the Defense Counsel for the President goes, you will see the House Managers come on again to conclude. What will they say? Who knows at this point but you will see them again. It is not over.

Susan Glasser and I were just talking. I'm here with the panel and I have Alan Frumin, Susan Glasser, Laura Coates and Ross Garber. That Adam Schiff at one point seemed like he was reading a list of credits at the end of a movie, but that's how he chose to use spend some of that time, probably so he doesn't have to do use that time at the end that way.

SUSAN GLASSER, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, that's right. It did have that feel of a sort of we know what's happening here, so you know just in case I don't get this in my big closing speech, I want to thank my staff I want to thank the good people. That's not usually the kind of argument you make if you're actually trying to persuade anybody.

Look, this has been a trial that isn't really a trial, and these are arguments that are aimed not really at the jury, which is not really a jury at all, anyway. I mean, it's a very - it's a frustrating thing and a time in our democracy when people are already convinced that outcomes are raven.

In fact you have the President of the United States who says things are rigged. You have Bernie Sanders who is campaigning in Iowa tonight. He'll leave the Senate floor from a trial that isn't a trial to go to the real election in Iowa tonight. He also says the system is rigged.

It's hard not to be cynical about this process and to wonder, who are these folks speaking to? And I agree with Jeff Toobin, my colleague from New York, that there was a sort of air out of the balloon quality to some of the arguments this morning, like we're going through the motions here.

[12:20:00]

CUOMO: It is no small irony that Senator Sanders is leaving this to go to Iowa. By the way, that's not a real straight vote, either. That's the caucus system that has its own complications. Alan, Jeffrey Toobin said this is a triumph for Senator Mitch McConnell.

We get his reasoning. He got the outcome he wanted, as he did with Merrick Garland, but as someone who studies the procedures, the legacy of this, the precedent of this, can you call this a triumph.

ALAN FRUMIN, SENATE PARLIAMENTARIAN EMERITUS: I seldom label anything that happens on the floor of the Senate a trial. I'm less concerned with results than I am with process. The result was always for ordained but the process wasn't. There was drama at least I believe there was drama leading up to the vote on whether or not to have witnesses.

I'm also concerned that process-established precedent, and precedent for the future, up until this trial, every trial has had witnesses. Now we have a trial without witnesses. And in the future, I suspect that will become the model.

CUOMO: Right.

FRUMIN: And that is, shall we say a defining process down.

CUOMO: Right. I mean look, I don't know how bastardizing a process is a triumph. I understand what Jeffrey is saying, and I get it. This is politics but this was supposed to be better than politics. This, as the Chief Justice said, is supposed to be the ultimate delivering body.

Now I want you to, to litigate the point of which is the better position? You have two choices as a GOP Senator. He did nothing wrong so I didn't have the vote for witnesses and I'm not removing him? Or the political heads, which I think we're going to hear a little bit more than has been suggested here?

If Joni Ernst is using it, the idea of, oh, it was wrong. I would never do it, which I think is the key question for these Senators to be asked no matter what they say afterwards. Would you do it this way? Would you do it this way? Oh, no, no, I wouldn't do it this way.

But not enough for the power I've been given for removal, but I didn't vote for witnesses, either. Which of those two positions do you think is the strongest? Ross, you will say that saying, I believe that nothing here was done wrong, that's why I am consistent. That would be your favorite position.

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No.

CUOMO: So I'm making you adopt it.

(LAUGHTER)

GARBER: I'm not going to do it. I'm actually interested to hear these positions because the notion of kind of justifying this vote is fascinating.

CUOMO: Which vote? GARBER: The acquittal vote, right? The notion of saying, yes, as Marco Rubio suggested, I think there were high crimes and misdemeanors. But I'm going to vote to acquit is also interesting.

Anyplace on the spectrum, I think it's going to be fascinating to hear their arguments, because the notion is, impeachment is for high crimes and misdemeanors, bribery, treason, high crimes and misdemeanors. You go in the trial in the Senate and you vote to convict if you find those things occurred.

The reality, though, as we're going to see play out, is that politics intervenes and things like elections coming up soon, those are going to matter. Things like your perception of how bad a high crime and misdemeanor it is matters. I'm going to be very interested to hear those arguments.

CUOMO: Well, he's ducking a little bit of the question, well done which is how do you make that argument but you didn't vote for witnesses? It was wrong, they reached their threshold, it was impeachable but no witnesses.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's hard for me get into the mind of a hypocrite, because that I am not. And the idea of trying to figure out which are the lesser of two evils to convince my constituency that I smell like roses is why people hate politicians, why they speak out of two sides of their mouth.

And what I really want to say, though, is, in defense, maybe it's the prosecutor in me. I don't think that these individuals phoned in at all today. The reason why Adam Schiff invoked the Cooper Union Speech was - to remember one key phrase was let us do our duty to the end as we understand it.

It may have been an exercise in futility from the idea they were - there was a foregone conclusion he would be acquitted, but the idea that he would not pursue justice. The idea that Val Demings laid out very eloquently and passionately about the exact chronology of events here is what happened.

She knew that she was going to force people to say, here's why I'm a hypocrite. I laid it all out there. It's not weather, it's what going to do about it? I mean the idea that Hakeem Jefferies laid out to talk about listen, are we really going to be in a position right now we're going to vindicate a President who has cheated but then condemn those who have spoken out about the conduct?

That's why Adam Schiff spoke about his - he pool - case of reorganization that this is not the jury pool any longer the Senate, fine. Give us your lip services about why you should be the person everyone that everyone you know looks at and with honor.

[12:25:00]

COATES: But at the end of the day, it is the voters who have to look at this and say, well its clearest day to me what happened. Why did one plus one not equal two? That is the calculation at the end that will really matter.

As far as you can justify saying, I believe it but I don't want to remove it, they're irreconcilable positions I mean only exists in a political court room if that was.

CUOMO: Let's get a quick break in here. And while we're monitoring you see the live picture. The Senators are talking to reporters. That means we have some more time to go. When we come back, we'll talk about this. You're going to start hearing the word Faustian a lot.

There is a Faustian bargain being made here a deal with the devil of sorts and it applies. We'll talk about that, we'll also be getting into the other big story of the day the first big moment of the 2020 election cycle, the Iowa Caucus. More live CNN Special Coverage right after a quick, quick break.

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