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Source Says, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is Leaving Door Open to Trump Conviction; Security on High Alert at Capitol amid Impeachment Trial; CDC Says, Double Masking Can Block 92 Percent of Infectious Particles. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 10, 2021 - 11:30   ET

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


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[11:30:00]

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The question that has to be asked after day one of Donald Trump's impeachment trial, will more Republican senators have a change of heart, like Senator Bill Cassidy. Cassidy of Louisiana became the sixth Republican to side with the Democrats to vote that the trial is, in fact, constitutional.

But unlike these other five GOP senators, Cassidy voted to dismiss the trial last month, backing the idea then that it was not constitutional to try a former president. so what made the difference?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): I'm an impartial juror. And one side is doing a great job and the other side is doing a terrible job on the issue at hand. As an impartial juror, I'm going to vote for the side that did the good job.

The House managers made a compelling, cogent case and the president's team did not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Our CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel has been doing a lot of reporting on this. Jamie, does it look like other Republicans will keep an open mind through this trial over the coming days?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think we still believe that it is a heavy lift to get to 17 Republicans to vote for convictions, but let's see what happens.

And one of the things we've learned this morning is a source close to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has told me, quote, he is leaving the door open. Just compare his comments and posture this time to the last impeachment.

So Mitch McConnell is sending a signal to the conference that he is leaving his personal decision open. I think just for context, Wolf, there are a couple of things to remember. One, his wife, Elaine Chao, was a cabinet member in the Trump administration who resigned over January 6th. So there's a family component here.

But I think even more than that, Mitch McConnell is a product of the Senate. He lost the majority in the Senate. He's looking long-term. And, finally, he's 78 years old. I'm guessing that legacy is important to him.

So will we get to 17? We think it's unlikely, but we've heard a lot of talk this morning about trial magic, things that happen. Yesterday, we saw something influence Senator Cassidy. Maybe there will be other things like that along the way, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see in the next few days, we'll see what happens. Jamie, thank you very much.

John King is with us right now. What do you think -- Mitch McConnell, he voted that the entire thing was not constitutional. I guess if he flipped and decided to convict, that would be a huge, huge change.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It would be, but focus on how you began. Twice now on the Rand Paul motion a couple weeks ago and then yesterday, he voted it was unconstitutional. He wants no trial. He wants this to go away. And that's not -- it's partly about Donald Trump, but it's mostly about him.

Jamie mentioned legacy, very important, creature of the Senate, very important to Mitch McConnell. The majority is very important to Mitch McConnell and he just lost it. It's a 50/50 Senate right now. There are 34 seats up in two years. 20 of them, 20 of those 34 currently held by up Republicans.

Only one who will be on the ballot voted yesterday to advance this, Lisa Murkowski from Alaska. And guess what, she will likely face a primary or at least some blowback from pro-Trump forces. Senator Toomey of Pennsylvania also, but he is not running for re-election. Others, Portman and Burr in Ohio and North Carolina, both not running for re-election, but they voted to make this trial go away. When Mitch McConnell says vote your conscience, what he means to his Republican colleagues is vote your politics. Vote your politics.

So, let's see. Can the House managers move public opinion? The House managers carried the day yesterday. But can they carry the trial? Can they move public opinion? Can they make it more and more uncomfortable for these Republicans?

But right now, we know that Mitch McConnell's number one hope is he can take back the majority in two years. He believes that path is easier, clearer, if you do not have all these fights with Donald Trump. He is among those who hope somebody else takes Donald Trump off the playing field, like this investigation in Georgia, potential financial troubles for the Trump organization. Will they have the courage in the end to stand up and do it themselves? Decide we're not going to empower or enable more Trump trauma? That is the burden on House managers.

So when Mitch McConnell says, vote your conscience, what he means is vote your politics. Let's listen out this trial, and at the end of it, let's make what is the best calculation for Republicans heading into 2022. At the moment, Wolf, their calculation is don't pick a fight with Donald Trump because he stirs up so much trouble within the family.

[11:35:01]

The challenge for the House managers is to change that dynamic.

BLITZER: And they're going to try to do that today and tomorrow, the House managers, with new previously unseen video that supposedly is going to be very, very compelling.

KING: And that gets me back to the trauma question and then the accountability question. If you are a Republican who says we will not convict, is it your position that the president gets a pass? Is it your position -- can you argue, can anyone argue -- and I think the House Democrats made a compelling point yesterday.

Can anyone argue that this would have happened if the president hadn't -- if some former president had not summoned his supporters here, had not stoked them with the big lie for two months and then stoked them of that rally? Would the insurrection have happened? No, he didn't say, go crash through the windows. No, he didn't say, go hurt people or go kill people. But he said, let's march on the Capitol. He said the vice president -- he mentioned Mike Pence, he mentioned Liz Cheney.

That's the accountability question. If this is not the way to hold the former president accountable, then what is? And I think that's the challenge for the House managers, to keep that squeeze on the Republicans. If this is not the appropriate forum, if voting to convict in the impeachment trial is not the appropriate forum, then stand up and give us an alternative, or else, explain your decision.

BLITZER: I'm sure Trump is now getting increasingly worried. Even if he is acquitted in the Senate, a lot legal problems he's going to have in New York, Georgia now and probably elsewhere.

KING: The access to information that these House managers have, yet you can be certain that prosecutor in Georgia is going to watch every second of it.

BLITZER: Yes, they certainly are.

All right, stand by. More than a month after the insurrection, barricades and barbed wire outside the U.S. Capitol building including, the House and Senate office buildings nearby, that is still continuing. Security intense as day two of this impeachment trial is about to get underway. We're taking a closer look at the security in place.

Plus, Michigan's top Republican caught on video calling the insurrection a hoax and falsely saying the rioters weren't, in fact, Trump supporters. You're going to hear how he's now responding.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:40:00]

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: In just a few minutes, the Democratic House impeachment managers will begin presenting their case charging former President Donald Trump for being responsible for inciting that deadly riot on January 6. And they plan again to use video footage to support that.

But the Capitol complex itself is a physical reminder of that day. Heightened security measures continue more than a month after the deadly insurrection with National Guard members patrolling the perimeter and the impeachment managers inside flanked by a security detail.

Here with me is CNN Correspondent Josh Campbell. Josh, tell us about all this enhanced security.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And just to show you, Jake, about how the show of force is taking place, we are a couple blocks from the United States Capitol. We can't even get close to it, which is unusual. Typically, on a regular day, members of the public can move in and around the building. This is now a fortress that's akin to a military compound.

You can see over my shoulder here there are members of the National Guard that have this building completely surrounded. They are armed, they are here just in case there is an additional threat similar to what we saw during that insurrection on January the 6th.

Now, we know that inside the Capitol building, as these members of Congress prepare for the second day of the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, that security is also being enhanced inside. We know the House impeachment managers now have security details themselves, again, because of lingering fears of some type of possible retribution.

It's worth noting that the Capitol police, who, obviously, we've been focused on since that insurrection, are now providing additional standoff here. They have resources that they have added to enhance that. I will show you. We're here at one of these checkpoints that did not exist on January 6th.

Again, their goal, these Capitol police officers, to protect the members of Congress inside, to protect their staff, and they're doing so in a way that we just simply haven't seen, creating this massive security presence, pushing people back, blocks and blocks of standoff just to make sure that some type of violent insurgent or other type of threat doesn't get close to those lawmakers as they prepare for this historic second impeachment, Jake.

TAPPER: Just a really sad sight. Josh Campbell, thanks so much. I appreciate it. Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The Justice Department under former President Donald Trump resisted search warrant requests for federal prosecutors investigating Rudy Giuliani's activities in Ukraine. Prosecutors are looking into whether Giuliani violated foreign lobbying laws and wanted access to his communications.

Now, the Department of Justice said a search warrant for the former president's personal attorney would be an extraordinary step.

CNN's Kara Scannell joins me now. So, why would the Department of Justice say, issuing the search warrant would be an extraordinary step?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: So, Anderson, sources tell my colleague, Evan Perez and I, that there was debate and discussion within the Justice Department in Washington. And some folks felt that executing a search warrant, which would involve the use of federal agents, on a lawyer who is advising the president as part of a foreign lobbying investigation was just extraordinary. They thought that they would need more evidence in this case.

Now, prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan are investigating Giuliani and whether his activities in the Ukraine were done on behalf of a Ukrainian, something that they are looking into whether Giuliani did not disclose, that that could violate the federal lobbying laws.

[11:45:10]

Now, Giuliani has said that he was conducting all of these activities on behalf of then-President Donald Trump. So this generated a lot of debate and discussion and ultimately went up as far as the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen.

Now, he subsequently issued a memorandum that added additional layers of review for any prosecutor across the country who wants to issue a search warrant on an attorney, but ultimately, despite the debate, no decision was made, and it's a decision that will pivot to the Biden administration.

COOPER: So, the investigation into Giuliani is ongoing?

SCANNELL: That's right. I mean, this investigation is ongoing. Sources tell us that they were interviewing people as recently as this fall. The question here that prosecutors wanted to do is execute a search warrant or a subpoena or even a voluntary request, somehow to gain additional evidence to pursue their investigation and their investigative theory.

And this will be a question for the Biden administration to decide. They have talked about both wanting to restore the independence of the Justice Department, but also talking about unity, and some DOJ watchers look to translate that into will they want to leave some of these politically-charged investigations behind? I mean, the Ukrainian activities were the subject of the former president's first impeachment trial.

But this will be something that will land in the hands of the Justice Department and we know that the Senate just yesterday set a date for the confirmation hearing of Biden's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, for February 22nd. He could be in office as soon as next month and this could land on his desk in short order after that, Anderson.

COOPER: Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

Back with my legal and political team here. Gloria, for the Biden administration, this does present problems. President Biden clearly does not want to get sucked into this impeachment trial, also for then him to kind of get sucked into these ongoing investigations presents problems.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And, of course, Rudy Giuliani was the person who was out there trying to prosecute his son, Hunter Biden, and what the previous administration did was punt. That's a technical, legal term. But they decided they're not going to touch this and they're going to make it a test for the Biden administration.

Now, Kara just mentioned Merrick Garland who is a judge. He is well respected on both sides of the aisle. And I think whatever decision he makes, Biden will stay away from it. And we don't know what Merrick Garland would do. But I think people believe he would make a decision on the merits.

COOPER: Ross Garber, would it have been an extraordinary step to have a search warrant against Giuliani?

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think there are three things that it would trigger. It would be very unusual. And I've represented a lot of lawyers. The first is that layer -- it being a search warrant on a lawyer. There are special -- even before this new memo, there are special Department of Justice rules dealing with search warrants on lawyers because it potentially implicates attorney-client privilege information. So that's one thing. That rule has been tightened up by the former acting assistant attorney general -- former attorney general to require additional steps. So that's one.

Second is it would relate to the statute called the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which is very fairly rarely prosecuted. When it is, it's usually not successful.

And then third is the issue that Gloria was talking about, it would be a very politically sensitive case. But it's why I think Garland, I agree with Gloria, is a smart choice for attorney general.

COOPER: Up next, Democratic aides say there will be brand new evidence revealed during today's arguments. We'll take a look at what to watch for, next.

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TAPPER: We have some news for you now just in on the coronavirus pandemic. A new study from the CDC shows that double masking can block more than 90 percent of infectious particles from escaping, more than double what a single loose mask can block.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, tell us more about this. And if this is true, why are they not yet telling us all to double mask?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's a good question, Jake. Now that we have this, are they going to start telling people, hey, you should double mask and here's how to do it. What the CDC is talking about is a surgical mask, sort of one of those blue ones that you see all over the place, and then putting a fabric one on top of it. And what that can do is that can reduce gaps.

I think anyone who's worn a surgical mask or a fabric mask, you can see that there is some gaps where things can get out. The benefit of a surgical mask is it has a moldable nose. The benefit of having the fabric mask over it is that it just gives you a tighter fit. Tony Fauci has talked about it. Actually, after he talked about it, I tried it, and you really can tell the difference. That tight fit is very important so that you're not letting germs out that could affect other people.

It's also really important to remember fit. And I'm going to speak on sort of behalf of people like me who are sort of on the smaller side. Masks are made for people of sort of average size, especially if you're a bit of a smaller person, sometimes they're just going to be too big.

[11:55:04]

And so you need to maybe make a knot in the loops or do something to make it fit better, and certainly putting a fabric mask on top of it will certainly help.

This is something that is just sort of common sense, it is no big deal. I've double masked for a while now. It's an easy thing to do, and apparently now there's some science behind it. Jake?

TAPPER: Interesting. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.

This just in, some last-minute re-strategizing on the Trump defense team, a direct result of the widely panned performance of lawyer Bruce Castor who made the first presentation for Donald Trump on the first day of the trial. The reviews were pretty bad, and from Republican senators.

Let's get right to CNN's Pamela Brown for more details. Pam, David Schoen from Trump's legal team, you say he's going to be taking a more prominent role. He was the second lawyer to speak yesterday.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He was the second lawyer to speak, and I'm told from a source familiar that he's going to be more forward-facing in the P.R. aspect. Because, as you know today and tomorrow, it's all about the House impeachment managers, and given the fact that Bruce Castor who spoke before David Schoen, who you see right here, had such a widely panned performance. Yesterday, there was a scramble behind the scenes in Trump world to get Schoen out and to be more of the public-facing lawyer of the team. And that's why he went on Hannity last night. There was a moment yesterday, Jake, when Dershowitz even criticized Bruce Castor saying, I have no idea what he's doing, I have no idea what he's saying what he's saying, when the lights went off for the Trump team, okay, we've got to do something about this.

So there was this push to put Schoen on Hannity, but they have an obstacle, and that is David Schoen is going to be observing the Sabbath on Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. And so they only have a small window to really maximize him being forward-facing in this. So you're going to see him on Friday.

But then the other lawyers are going to take over and then the Trump team basically has to choose between a lawyer whose performance was widely panned yesterday and a lawyer who sued Trump over the summer over mail-in ballots. That's basically what they're left with in that regard.

We should note, Manu Raju spoke to the lawyers on Capitol Hill just moments ago. And Bruce Castor said that when Manu asked did the president express displeasure from your performance, he said far from it. He also says there is no change in legal strategy. But, as you know, former President Trump is all about legal strategy combined with a P.R. strategy here, and that is why you're going to see David Schoen more front and center on the P.R. front.

TAPPER: All Right, Pamela Brown, thank you so much. Wolf?

BLITZER: You know, the president's lawyers, Jake, they say he was horrified to learn of violence at the U.S. Capitol, acted quickly to stop it. That's what the president's lawyers are saying. But that totally contradicts what we reported and actually saw on that date. Here is part of the video put out by the president hours after the riot up on Capitol Hill began.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Go home. We love you. You're very special. You've seen what happens, you see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins. And, Kaitlan, that's quite a different tone than what his lawyers are describing.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And, Wolf, it also took two hours after protesters and rioters had breached the Capitol for former President Trump to issue that video. And we reported that day that it took an intense lobbying effort from his top aides to actually get the president to put that video out, because before it had just been a simple tweet from the president not encouraging them to go home. Also in that video, he told them that he loved the rioters and that they were very special, he said. He continued to maintain that this was an election that was stolen from him. So, so much of what is in this defense brief that we're getting from the president's attorneys depending on who it is that's going to be arguing over the next few days is contradictory to what we actually reported in real-time.

And the other thing they talk about is saying that it's impossible to prove that the president was delighted by what he saw that day. That was something that CNN and others reported at the time that the president was borderline enthusiastic as he watched these rioters breach the Capitol and interrupt this process to certify those votes.

But, Wolf, there is a way to actually get at that, and that raises one question, which is why we are not seeing witnesses in this trial. Instead, they're relying so much on evidence.

But there are people who were around the president that day. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill who were on the phone with him, his staff inside the west wing who were trying to get him to issue a more aggressive response. One of them, Mark Meadows, is on Capitol Hill right now in the room with the president's legal team as they are going to be listening to these House impeachment managers make their arguments again today.

So, there is a way to get at the president's mindset. There are questions about why they're not doing that, of course, Wolf. But so much of what you are going to hear from the Trump team is contradicted by what was reported in real-time as this was going on, and also by the president's own actions.

[12:00:06]

BLITZER: Which raises the question, will there be witnesses, and we will find out.