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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  January 16, 2020 7:00pm-8:00pm PST

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including lots of areas of the country with small populations. but look, the point is clear and he's sending it all the time especially to the senators and it's making them gulp. be with me or against me. what will they do? be on the look out. thank you for watching very much. it is time now for cnn tonight with d. lemon. >> i had trouble with my ear piece. i missed you with bolo. tell me again the substance of your bolo? >> it was a prayer event the president had today. you would think it would be about prayerful things. maybe he's praying the map would look the same as it did in 2020 as it did in 2016. he had an electoral map by county. it's all red. that's because of by land mass. the reason i pointed out by bolo, this is the message he's sending to the senators. even in a prayer situation about religious freedom, his religion is about himself. see the map? you're with me or you're against me. and we're going to see which way they decide to do.
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>> by the way, he claims it was his electoral victory was historic. it wasn't, by the way. he was 46th in electoral victories out of 58 elections. did you know that? >> yeah. >> you would think it he was number one, it was a landslide. it was. . by the way, he got less than obama in both of his elections. obama got 68% of the electoral college in 2008, 671.7 1.7 and got 59. >> he lost the popular vote. he's president of the united states. he's at best stretching what is true. and most often abusing the truth and lying when he doesn't even have to. the question is will senators in his party be the same way there? that's what was so upsetting about mcsally today. says a woman -- >> oh, man. >> amazing record of service to this country and she really acted like a punk today. she did a disservice to herself and the seat she holds which was john mccain's. >> she wasn't even elected.
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she lost through a fluke, like some would say, trump won. but that's a whole 'nother show. but through a fluke she was appointed. he actually won. through a fluke she got the seat. when she was asked a legitimate question that every single lawmaker, democrat or republican who has anything to do with this impeachment trial should be asked, do you want to hear new information? do you want witnesses? everyone should be asked that question. if you don't want to answer, keep it pushing, keep moving. no comment, yes or no. you don't have to be rude. you don't have to degrade someone just because you can't answer the question. or because you're afraid you're going to lose to someone who is also very respected back home. and i'm talking about kelly. >> yeah. sure, there's no question. she has a tough race on her hands. she's won a race before, she won in congress. she has an amazing pedigree. the question is is she ruining it all right now? if you want to be john mccain,
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you can't be doing what she did today. there's only going to be one john mccain. we know why she's doing it. what bothers me, she's done worse -- >> it bothers me. >> we get disrespected all the time. it's nothing compared to the president of the united states does. she didn't suppress him. she didn't support him in 2016. she called him out about his treatment of women. now what is she doing? >> that's what bothers me, the hypocrisy bothers me. it bothers me it's acceptable and even lauded and applauded among a certain group in our country right now because that is not acceptable. listen, we have to do jobs. you may not like it, that is a perfectly acceptable question and it is not a political question. it is not a biased question. manu raju is among the best and manu raju is not a liberal hack. he is a very well respected seasoned reporter asking a legitimate question. she couldn't answer it. if she can't stand the heat, then get out of the appointed kitchen, she shouldn't be there.
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>> she's just playing a game and she tried to fund raise off of it like the fund-raisers with trump. >> it's going to backfire. >> i'm on the mailing list from the president. he reaches out to me on a regular basis, i need you, chris. it's the trump play book. the question is it's obvious. >> it's sad. >> it should hurt her. >> it's sad. i think it will. people are over it. >> she has to be better than this. her past was. her present, not so much. >> thank you, sir. see you next time. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. thank you for joining us. the impeachment of president trump officially began today. this was an historic day, trust me. this is only the third impeachment trial in more than 243 years in this country. and if you didn't see it live this afternoon, i just want to show you some of the key moments. this is history in the making, and it affects every single american. i want you to watch chief
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justice john roberts, the chief judge of the highest court in the nation, is sworn in by senator chuck grassley presiding in place of the vice-president. >> do you solemnly wear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of donald john trump, president of the united states, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the constitution and the laws so help you god? >> i do. >> god bless you. >> thank you very much. >> chief justice then swearing in the senators. >> at this time i will administer the oath to all senators in the chamber in conformance with article 1 section 3 clause 6 of the constitution, and the senate's impeachment rules. will all senators now stand and remain standing and raise their right hand? do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the
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trial of the impeachment of donald john trump, president of the united states, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the constitution and laws, so help you god? >> i do. >> all the senators walking up to the desk in groups of four to sign the oath book. one senator, jim enhoff, absent because of what his office calls a family medical issue. he'll be sworn in on tuesday. and here is a dramatic moment when the sergeant at arms in language that comes straight out of the senate rules, he says this. hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. are are commanded to keep silent on pain of imprisonment while the house is presenting to the senate of the united states articles of impeachment against donald john trump, president of the united states. >> commanded to keep silent or they could face prison. that just shows you how serious, how monumental all of this is.
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senators are back tuesday at 1:00 p.m. when the real business of the impeachment trial begins. and with all of that, at a crucial moment in american history, there is more evidence coming out. evidence directly related to the charge that the president abused the power of his office. the government accountability office saying today the trump administration broke the law when it withheld $400 million in aid to ukraine, an aid that had been appropriated by congress. you heard the president's republican defenders arguing no laws were broken. now the gao says the administration did break the law, and senate minority leader chuck schumer says that evidence should be part of the trial. >> the gao found that it was illegal -- illegal for president trump to withhold military assistance from ukraine to pressure them to interfere in the 2020 elections. both the revelations about
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mr. parnas and the gao opinion strengthen our push for witnesses and documents in the trial. >> senator schumer is here tonight exclusively. and i'm going to talk to him in just a moment. but will democrats force a vote tuesday on new evidence and on witnesses? witnesses like giuliani associate lev parnas who says he watched them fire marie yovanovitch. >> to my knowledge the president fired her four times, maybe five times. once in my presence. >> explain that. you said he fired her in front of you? >> correct. >> that is something you could prove or disprove if you called witnesses and had them testify under oath. why wouldn't every senator want to question a witness who says that? why wouldn't every senator want to get the facts on the record for everyone to see? even though the president today insists he doesn't know parnas.
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>> i don't know him. i don't know parnas other than i guess i had pictures taken, which i do with thousands of people, including people today that i didn't meet, but just met them. i don't know him at all. don't know what he's about. don't know where he comes from. know nothing about him. >> it is true, the president takes pictures with a lot of people. but after the president said that today, parnas's attorney released a video that shows them together in a group of people at mar-a-lago. and let's not forget the photos by cnn's count, there's photo and video evidence of at least 11 meetings. and it's likely there are more times they were at the same events. not to mention all those texts between parnas and rudy giuliani, the president's personal attorney. seems like senators would want to question parnas about all that. and one key republican may be closer tonight to a vote to call witnesses, and that's susan collins. putting out a statement tonight
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including this, and i quote here. well, i need to hear the case argued and the questions answered. i tend to believe having additional information would be helpful. it is likely that i would support a motion to call witnesses at this point in the trial just as i did in 1999. like i said, impeachment is serious. it's monumental. it affects every american, and we need to hear all the facts. next, my exclusive interview with senate minority leader chuck schumer. i'm going to ask him how many republican senators he thinks will want to hear from witnesses. i love the new myww program, because it's tailored to you! ...take the personal assessment and get matched with a proven weight loss plan. find out which customized plan can make losing weight easier for you! myww join for free and get two months free!
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but she wanted to be close to nature. home. so, we met in the middle. ohhhhh! look who just woke up! you are so cute! but one thing we could both agree on was getting geico to help with homeowners insurance. yeah, it was really easy and we saved a bunch of money. oh, you got it. you are such a smart bear! call geico and see how easy saving on homeowners and condo insurance can be. historic dais on capitol hill and for the united states. for only the third time in the nation's history an impeachment trial of a sitting president officially opens in the senate. the chief justice john roberts sworn in this afternoon to preside over president trump's
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trial. he then immediately swore in senators to serve as judges and jurors. the senate minority leader chuck schumer describing the mood as solemn, serious and profound. i'm very happy to have senator schumer in the studio tonight with me exclusively. i appreciate it so much. >> don, great to be back. >> a very important day in the history of this country. minority leader. you said you saw members of both sides of the aisle visibly gulp. take us inside the chamber. what is this moment like in history? >> it's transformational. the senate normally is the senate and there's lolgts of banter and back and forth and people talking in all places and directions. when this happens, the mood changes. it becomes serious. it becomes historic. and i think the weight of the constitution and the weight of history fall on the shoulders of each senator. and i'm hopeful that some of my republican colleagues will rise to that occasion. >> i want to ask you about the
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indicted giuliani associate lev parnas. we've seen interviews on msnbc, anderson cooper did an interview with him. he has implicated the president as well as other members of the administration. the president says he doesn't know him. i just want to put up, there are some videos of him. there's photographs of him -- of them together. listen, i have to say and you know this as well, you probably take pictures with more people than i do. i take a lot of pictures. i don't know everyone, right? >> no. >> according to cnn's file, there are photos, 11 meetings they were at the same events plus texts with giuliani. what do you think? >> well, i think "the washington post" counted up the number of times the president has lied, not stated the truth. i think it's over 7,000. so normally if you see a politician simply in a picture next to somebody else, you say maybe he doesn't know him. but first parnas was a close associate and worked with giuliani, one of trump's closest people. so it's logical that they knew
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each other. and second, there's going to be all kinds of documentary evidence where either parnas or maybe giuliani or maybe someone else talks about meetings with the president. so i don't -- given trump's tendency to prevaricate, to not tell the truth, i tend to believe parnas. >> listen to this, this is parnas with anderson. >> are you saying vice-president pence knew? >> i don't know if the vice-president knew everything we were doing. i'm sure he was -- >> he was aware of the quid pro quo? >> of course. everybody knew -- everybody that was close to trump knew that this was a thorn in the side and this was a serious situation. >> bolton? >> bolton. >> mulvaney? >> mulvaney. bolton i don't think agreed with it. there were certain people that agreed with it and didn't agree with it. >> he called it a drug deal according to fiona hill. >> i think bolton is an important witness. between me and bolton we can fit in all the dots because i was on
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the ground there and he was over here. >> and you'd be willing to testify? >> i would be very willing to testify. >> you raised your eyebrow there. >> as you know, don, four weeks ago, 3 1/2 weeks ago, i sent a letter to mcconnell, leader mcconnell. and i said, if we want the real truth, we need these four witnesses, all of whom would be eyewitness to everything that happened, why the aid was stopped, who stopped it and for what reason. and they were mulvaney and bolton among them. what parnas says today makes the case for witnesses even stronger because -- >> how do you get to that, though? given mcconnell's control over the senate -- over the process, how do you get to that? you want michael duffy. you want robert blair, you want john bolton and mick mulvaney. >> correct. >> given his control of the process -- >> we can't rely on mcconnell. he already said he's taking his cues from the white house. he's not supposed to, but that's
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what he said. consult with the white house, fine. take your cues, no. we need four republican senators to join 47 democrats. we only need 51 votes, not 60 in this case, to say we want witnesses and we want documents. and the argument we're making is very, very simple. if you really want a fair trial, if you understand what the founding fathers meant when they placed the power of the trial of impeachment in the senate, then maybe some of these people will rise to the occasion. now, if they don't, no one is going to -- donald trump should know that if they don't have witnesses and don't have documents and just try to rush this through, an acquittal will have very little value because every american will be asking, what is donald trump hiding? if he did nothing wrong, if his conversation was as he said, perfect, then why isn't he -- why is he so adamant no witnesses, no documents? the documents that we could get
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would corroborate many of the things that parnas said, or they might not. by the way, we don't know what these documents will say. we don't even know what the witnesses will say. they're not democratic appointees. they could be exculpatory. >> they could exonerate. >> our goal is the truth and let the chips fall where they may. just one more. when donald trump and mitch mcconnell block the truth, they lose nooutcome. >> okay. so if they don't allow witnesses, would you want the house to re-open proceedings? >> i think we have to go through this and see -- >> you want to see what happens? >> i want to see what happens and let's see -- you know, there are a bunch of republican senators who, there are ten or 12, not just three or four, who have never said we shouldn't have witnesses. and so mcconnell, what mcconnell i think wanted to do originally is move to dismiss, boom. he didn't have the votes for it. so now he has this strategy where he's kicking the can down the road. let's have the arguments first
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and then the evidence -- we'll vote on whether to have witnesses, whether to have witnesses, whether to have documents. of course, that's an alice in wonder land trial. but the reason he had to do it is there are a number of his republicans who know what the right thing to do is and who know what their constituents want. listen to this number. 64% of republicans -- republican voters who almost always side with trump, say we should have witnesses and documents. >> you said a lot there. number one, do you think by holding onto the articles of impeachment that it's gotten us here for people wanting to hear witnesses? >> yes, it's increased the -- it's increased the chance that it would happen, and almost every day there's something new. there is something else new that happened today, too, not just parnas. >> what? >> the gao which is impartial -- >> we're going to talk about that. are you hopeful there will be witnesses? >> hopeful is how i'd put it. >> you said that there are instead of just four, there are 11 or 12, you said?
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>> 11 or 12 senators who have -- when asked should we have witnesses, some say no, side with trump. but a whole bunch come up with answers that don't directly answer the question. >> one of those that you will need, one of those hopeful ones, is susan collins. she issued a statement this evening, this is a key line. i need to hear the case argued and the questions answered. i tend to believe having additional information would be helpful. it is likely that i would support a motion to call witnesses at this point in the trial just as i did in 1999. do you think she's saying that she's more likely to not to support calling witnesses on both sides? >> i can't guess what's in her mind, but she is one of the people who has entertained the desire to have witnesses. >> more likely than, i should say. pardon me, i said that wrong. >> i don't know. i don't know. and believe me, knowing donald trump, he is going to put huge pressure on every one of these people. who knows what he'll say, do, even threaten.
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that seems to be the m.o. up there sometimes. but so far they don't have the votes. if trump had his way, if nancy hadn't delayed, they could have sent it over the day before christmas, mcconnell says move to dismiss, 51 votes. that's what trump would want, it would be gone. that hasn't happened. >> just because of that, you think? >> well, in part because of that and because we in the senate, we senate democrats have such a strong argument, it's hard to argue against witnesses and documents if you want the truth. >> do republicans want -- well, if you want witnesses, then we want joe biden, hunter biden to be called as witnesses. are you willing to do that? or risk that if you want to call it a risk, to have the folks that you want called as witnesses? >> look, i think that the witnesses we've asked for are not witnesses that are our pals, they're trump appointees. they work for trump. we think -- those are the eyewitness, they are the people
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who saw, wrote, emailed exactly what happened. same with the documents we've ordered. hunter biden has nothing to do with that. now, if they want to go on a fishing expedition because they're so worried about what witnesses would find and try to ask for someone else, i don't think it will fly with the american people and i don't even think it will fly with the senators. a few senators have called for it, but i think that's to try and scare people from the pursuit of real witnesses who are needed in a trial. if there is a bank robbery, you don't say i want a witness who lives in the next town because he's doing something wrong in that next town having nothing to do with the bank robbery. >> you mentioned the government accountability office which is a nonpartisan group. >> yes. >> they said the administration broke a law when it did not give the aid initially to ukraine. we'll talk about that when we come right back.
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crime, senator, yet this nonpartisan government group, there is a report saying the trump administration violated the laud in the law in withholding ukraine aid. >> the law is called the impoundment act. it's not a criminal act, but it is a violation of law. and when a president violates -- remember, the standard for impeachment, high crimes and misdemeanors, is not necessarily a criminal act. but it is something that is so egregious that the founding fathers gave the power of the house to impeach, the senate to try because there had to be some check on a president who was abusing his power in a very severe way. this is a pretty damning report. >> i want you to listen to what we heard from the senate majority leader mitch mcconnell and senator lindsey graham just last month about this trial. watch this. >> i'm not an impartial juror. this is a political process.
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>> i am trying to give a pretty clear signal i have made up my mind. [ laughter ] i'm not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here. >> you hear this from these guys and then they sign this oath book, right? they took an oath -- >> impartial juror. >> impartial justice, to uphold impartial justice. so how are they going to enforce this oath? >> well, there's no -- you know, it's up to each person, but i think, again, the jury here in a certain sense is not just the senate, but the american people. and when they say things like that and then vote the way they have already said they're going to vote, their vote doesn't mean anything because they were afraid to listen to the evidence. in fact, it pushes things the other way. if you are afraid of evidence, if you are afraid of witnesses, of documents, it's because you have something to hide or the person you're working with, in this case president trump, has something to hide. so it certainly doesn't help their case to say that.
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>> but how does it -- how can one go into a trial -- a trial saying, i don't want witnesses, i don't want new evidence? that is unheard of. >> it's the question i've been asking, and we all have been asking for four weeks. and the public seems to be on our side pretty strongly. and that, i think, is one of the checks on some of these republicans who are unwilling to go along with trump, even though it's a lot easier to just go along with him and mcconnell. >> talk to me about the chief justice john roberts and give me a sense of how you think he's going to oversee the only the third senate impeachment trial. >> by the way, there have been three, this is the third for president, but there have been 15, i think be it is, completed impeachment trials in the history of the country. do you know how many had witnesses out of those 15 completed trials? >> all of them? >> 15. so this would be a huge break with precedent not to have witnesses in a trial. and it lessens the power of
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the -- the power, one of the few real powers the founding fathers gave for a president who is really overstepping his or her bounds, which is impeachment. but if you can't have witnesses, you can't have documents, you can't have a real trial, the impeachment process is degraded and maybe doesn't even work. >> what about the chief justice? >> the chief justice, he will probably, in my guess -- people say maybe he will bring some semblance of order and truth to this. but i wouldn't count on it. rehnquist is the last chief justice we had, and he quoted, i can't remember who, i think it was mark twain or somebody like that. and he said, i did nothing and i did it very well. any time a chief justice makes a ruling -- let's say a senator says, i move to do x. the senate can overrule that chief justice with just a 51 vote. and so what chief justice rehnquist did is, in most cases when someone made a motion, he
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said, i'm not going to decide, let the senate decide. my guess is roberts will do that most of the time. he will not want to be enmeshed in this process. he will not -- he's a very conservative guy, i totally disagree with a whole lot of his rulings. but i think he cares a lot about the way the public feels about the court and his image. and if he takes sides on these issues, he may ruin that. so i think he's going to just kick everything back to the senate for votes. >> it almost seems antithetical to the american justice system and to the constitution to have a supreme -- the chief justice -- >> avoid making all decisions. i agree with you. if he were to rule by the laws of evidence, we'd be having witnesses and heed ru'd rule. he'd say this is what i'd do. in that case, the rules of the senate -- rules of the impeachment in the senate are the senate can always overrule the chief justice with a majority vote. >> cnn is reporting rudy
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giuliani lobbied to have him as part of his legal team on the floor of the senate during the trial. would that be -- considering his relationship with the president? >> and he's under investigation himself. but i suppose the president can choose whoever he wants. and again, we would hope that that would cast into some real doubt the president's defense with the senators and certainly with the public. >> considering -- when you look back in retrospect, do you think that the house rushed this now? >> no. >> you don't? >> you know, it's such a sort of hypocritical argument. mitch mcconnell on the floor today said the house rushed it. and now he's trying to rush right through the senate without witnesses and documents. the house spent a lot of time, but who blocked all these people from coming forward? not the house. >> yeah, but why the pre-christmas deadline, though? they had this pre-christmas deadline. >> because they felt if you went to the courts and it would be appealed all the way up to the
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supreme court, it wouldn't be decided till after the election. and i think that's a very valled concern. had trump not blocked everybody, this could have been done before christmas with all of the witnesses and documents they wanted. having said that -- >> the house could have been calling parnas or bolton now as a witness in the house. >> this is after they sent the documents. bolton had not been willing to come at that point and no one knew what parnas had to say. he just came forward now. and i will just say this. i think pelosi did it exactly right. she did as much as she could. she made a very strong case. and by delaying, new evidence has come out that i think makes the case stronger for additional witnesses and documents, so i'm in favor of what she did. >> i know that you don't want to predict that, you want to go into the trial with an open mind. >> everyone has some of their predispositions, but i'm not making up my mind until i hear the case that's presented and the rebuttal of the case. >> do you think this will affect
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his reelection, the possibility of his reelection? >> i don't really know. you know, don, through my career what you try to do is the right thing. and if i didn't believe the right thing prevails -- now, it may take a long time -- i wouldn't be in this business. >> with the evidence you've seen, you believe that he -- >> with the evidence i've seen, there is a very serious case against him. but i'm waiting to make a final judgment before i hear everything. >> thank you. i appreciate you being here. >> great to be here. thanks, don. great to see you. >> we'll be back with more on this historic day. t-mobile 5g is here. and it's nationwide. while some 5g signals go only blocks, t-mobile 5g goes miles... beyond the big cities to the small towns... to the people. millions of americans can have access to 5g on t-mobile. this is just the beginning. t-mobile, the first and only nationwide 5g network.
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so history in the making on capitol hill for only the third time ever a president is going on trial in the senate. the chief justice john roberts and the senate sworn in today, but questions are looming over whether the senate will call witnesses. so joining me now for some
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perspective on this, veterans of two other modern day impeachment processes. guy smith who was a clinton impeachment advisor, and john dean, whose watergate testimony was key in ending nixon's presidency. so they know. they know the score here. good evening, gentlemen. i'll start with you. nixon was never in the position trump was in today. he resigned before the senate trial could begin. and you say the charges against trump are far worse. why do you say that? >> well, they involve national security. nixon was involved in covering up a bungled burglary -- actually two bungled burglaries. one that was known, one that was unknown. really, the abuses of his power surfaced as a result of the watergate investigation showing his things like revenge against enemies, the misuse of the c.i.a. and the i.r.s. and the fbi. those all surfaced as a result of the inquiry into watergate.
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so that's what he would have stood trial for, and he realized he was dead guilty, and he was going to be impeached. at that era, he lost the senate because he lied to them so often. and if they finally said, enough, we can't support this man. >> guy, let's compare the two of bill clinton and donald trump. so here's what you're pointing out. you said clinton was quiet, right, during his impeachment. but just this past week, donald trump has been tweeting, right? he said, why should i have the stigma of impeachment attached to my name when i did nothing wrong? and i just got impeached for making a perfect phone call. how does this influence the trial? >> well, i think it makes it harder for him. clinton was -- he was quiet during the trial, but remember, after he got over having said that he had misspoken and he really did have sex with that
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woman and that sort of thing, he was contrite. he was very contrite. and genuinely so. and then when it came time for the trial, he kept running the government. so with trump on the attack the whole time, it puts the republican senators in a terrible spot. a senior senator said to me before the parnas stuff came out, the republican senators are terrified because they don't know what else trump has done. and then the parnas thing came out. and it's more. so what's happening, we saw it play out with senator mcsally this morning when she attacked manu. she's running for something -- she's running and hiding. it's like all of a sudden there's nowhere to hide. >> what do you mean, what do you mean by that? >> what i mean by that is before it was like, well, you know, we're not going to have witnesses. it's going to be an easy vote.
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i'll just vote with all my colleagues and it will all be over. and now all of a sudden bolton is going to be there and probably mulvaney and then this guy parnas. oh, my god! and giuliani. and all of the stuff that keeps coming out. remember, there wasn't -- there's no crime. now there's a crime. >> so you think that. i mean, parnas, he has his credibility issues. >> he has serious credibility issues, but he hasn't be said anything that contradicts all the other witnesses who were under oath. >> john, weigh in on this. you said -- you say that you would be astounded if the senate doesn't bring witnesses in. what makes you think the members of the president's party will be willing to cross him on impeachment whether they won't cross him on anything? >> well, as you heard the minority leader say, he knows of 11 or 12 senators who have not been out there sticking their chest out and saying, not me, no witnesses. in fact, probably in the
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republican cloak room there's a lot of hand wringing going on. there is going to be evidence that a lot of them are not even aware of. they've tried to duck and run from a lot of this, not really wanting to be confronted with it. they now have to sit quiet. they can't talk to each other. they can't have their electronic devices out, and they have to listen to the evidence. and it's going to stun some of them. and it's going to build. and i think they're going to be hard put when the issue of whether or not to call these witnesses, which the managers will obviously make a very strong case for from the outset, they're going to be hard-pressed not to say, yes. that's the only way to have a fair trial. >> guy, john, thank you very much. i appreciate it. the chief justice john roberts sworn in today along with the full senate, what will happen if republican senators challenge him during the impeachment trial? we're going to dig into that. that's next. i've always been running- running to meetings, errands... now i'm running for me.
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and if you're pregnant or planning to be. ready to treat differently with a pill? otezla. show more of you. the impeachment trial of president trump is officially underway. watch as the chief justice john roberts is sworn in by senator chuck grassley presiding in place of vice-president pence. >> senators, i attend the senate in conformity with your notice for the purpose of joining with you for the trial of the president of the united states. i am now prepared to take the oath. >> will you place your left hand on the bible and raise your right hand? do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of donald john trump, president of the united states, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the constitution and the laws, so help you god? >> i do. >> god bless you.
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>> jeff rosen is here. he is a legal scholar and president and c.e.o. of the national constitution center. the perfect person to discuss this. thank you, jeffrey, for joining us. roberts is known for his joinin us. roberts is known for his independence. how do you expect him to handle the questions about witnesses, evidence in this trial? >> chief justice roberts cares more than anything about the independent, nonpartisan legitimacy of the court so on all the contested questions we can imagine coming up, should there be witnesses, should they dismiss the trial quickly, should they subpoena documents, chief justice roberts is likely to defer to the senate. schumer predicted that. roberts will say, senate, what do you think, he knows according to senate rules he can be overruled on any contested question, he's not going to want to be seen with siding with within side over another. for that reason, although he'll look very impressive and the
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sheer fact he's in the chamber, as senator schumer said made the senators gasp, he's unlikely to play a substantive role in the hotly contested trial. >> order and truth, as i spoke to the minority leader schumer, he hopes roberts will bring order and truth to the trial but he's not counting on it. is that how you see it? >> well, order in the sense, if the senators started yelling at each other, chief justice roberts is a stern but kindly task master and you can imagine him asking people to speak in turn but truth, i don't think he sees that as his role. chief justice chase in the johnson impeachment tried to interject himself and there was such a backlash that as chief justice rehnquist in the clinton impeachment, he said i did nothing in particular and did it very well. chief justice roberts clerked for rehnquist, so he's likely to
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take that as his model. it's hard to imagine any contested question where he weighs in in any substantive way. >> hot handed plan. >> a potted plant, i think he'd be happy to come out of this trial viewed as a nonpartisan potted plant. >> the senate was a different place in 1989, if the republican majority tries to pull something roberts feels is unjust will he intervene? >> no, he will not try to correct injustice. he could rule on substantive questions, rehnquist weighed in on -- >> before you go on. why is he there? >> he's there because the institution in article 1, section 3 of the constitution says the chief justice shall preside at any impeachment trials. he's required to be there. i'm sure he doesn't want to be there but the constitution doesn't say what sort of role he should play and senate rules,
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basically, are responsible for the fact that if senators want to overrule him, they can. those change too. a while ago. and it's hard to figure out exactly when the chief had the power to break ties. he doesn't seem to have that power anymore. so the senate basically has decided you can be here in our chamber but we're not going to let you affect the outcome. >> got it. back in 2018, seems like so long ago, after president trump called a judge who had ruled against his administration's asylum policy an obama judge, roberts released a rare statement defending the federal judiciary and he said we don't have obama judges or bush judges or clinton judges, we have an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. that independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for. what does this tell you how roberts will handle partisan critiques of his role in this
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trial? >> it tells us this is what he cares about more than anything else, after he was appointed chief he said the country is so polarized it's urgently important the americans think of the court as something above politics. the model of equal justice under law. the end of december chief justice roberts said we must think of judges as nonpartisan. that's why civic education is so important. he'll be very sensitive to being attacked as siding one side or another. that's why he'll try hard to play by the book, you saw him reading from his prepared statement. senator grassley tried to swear him in before he could read it and he said i have to make this statement. he will want to do everything possible to seem like the model of a neutral judge and that means not taking sides and getting himself into trouble. >> thank you, jeffrey rosen, appreciate it. >> thank you. the next few weeks of the impeachment trial will be momentous and we know the president will be watching, of course, so how much pressure is on republican senators?
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this is cnn tonight, i'm don lemon, historic day on capitol hill and for the united states. the senate impeachment trial of president donald j. trump officially opened, only the third time in our nation's history that a sitting president has been tried. and the president has plenty to say about his impeachment today. we're going to put what he said to the test in the trump fact check. the indicted associate of rudy giuliani, a central figure in the ukraine scandal directly implicates president trump in the scheme. we're going to see how his accusations may affect the impeachment trial. and we have breaking news tonight, a u.s. military official telling cnn 11 service members were injured in that ukrainian

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