Return to Transcripts main page
Senate Votes against Allowing Witnesses in Impeachment Trial; Senate Likely to Vote on Impeachment of President Trump after State of the Union Address; Emails Released Clarifying Timeline of Events Related to Ukrainian Aid being Withheld by White House; Democratic Presidential Candidates Campaign in Iowa Ahead of Caucuses; Rashida Tlaib Apologizes for Comments on Hillary Clinton; China Imposes Travel Restrictions Due to Coronavirus Outbreak; White House To Expand Travel Ban; Miami Prepares for Super Bowl; Lakers Team and Fans Pay Tribute to Kobe Bryant. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired February 1, 2020 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good Saturday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. It was a big week and there is a big week ahead, but this morning the witness fight is over. The impeachment trial is not over yet. Days from now the Senate will vote to almost certainly acquit the president, but not until after their closing arguments and after the president's State of the Union address. That is of course, Tuesday night. Democrats fighting back with a deal delaying the final vote here, forcing the president to deliver that speech before the trial is wrapped up.
SCIUTTO: The Senate didn't want to hear from witnesses or see any new evidence, but this morning just hours after the Senate defeated an attempt to subpoena those documents, those witnesses, we are seeing new evidence, court filings showing that the president himself directly involved in discussions about withholding Ukraine aid as early as June. This is long before he and his most senior aides acknowledged that discussion happening, even contradicting the timeline and facts laid out by the president's defense lawyers on the Senate floor just days ago. Contradictory evidence.
For the latest let's begin on Capitol Hill with CNN Congressional reporter Lauren Fox. Tell us what happens the next few days.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Essentially, this is just on pause for a moment. Senators were able to return home or to Iowa caucuses to campaign for a couple of days. Then senators can return on Monday, where we can expect to see closing arguments. Then on Tuesday you can expect that senators will be able to give statements on the floor about why they are choosing to vote the way that they planned to vote on Wednesday. That's when the big vote happens where we expected that the president will be acquitted. And that's all but certain, even given bombshells that have come out
over the last few days, related, of course, to the president's former national security adviser John Bolton and, of course, that new revelation overnight. All of that seems to be in the rearview mirror for many senators who are prepared to acquit the president on Wednesday. Jim and Poppy.
HARLOW: Lauren, thank you very much for your reporting on that.
SCIUTTO: More now on that new evidence regarding the president's direct involvement in withholding vital military assistance to Ukraine. Late last night the Justice Department dropped a court filing, interesting timing, shedding new light on why it's fighting against the release of key administration emails about that assistance.
I'm joined now by CNN crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz. Katelyn, it's remarkable. This is -- there are emails that tie this directly to the president, his decision-making, and far earlier than he or his aides -- in fact, they denied it, right, they straight-up lied about this?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: This is something that is showing us how much evidence the House and the Senate were not able to see at this point, and so what we saw last night in this court filing is the administration because of a court- ordered deadline finally had to outline, we have 24 emails that we're going to protect. We're not going to give up because of presidential privilege, things that speak about exactly what the president was deliberating, was deciding on and what he may have communicated to his top aides and officials around him.
SCIUTTO: Timing-wise, folks at home might wonder why Friday night, hours of a Senate vote, does this come out now?
POLANTZ: This was a coincidence in a lot of ways in that the court had ordered this deadline and said you need to outline why these are being withheld. But this shows how private group, this was a group called the Center for Public Integrity that had gotten access to some email from the Budget Office in the White House through the courts. And they're fighting over that still. And it just so happened that this deadline was set last night, and so the filing came at about 11:20 p.m. last night, which was just a few hours after the Senate had voted that they don't want to see anything or they don't even want to go after anything.
SCIUTTO: Pick your relevant metaphor, cow has left the barn, whatever. Maybe too late for consequences. Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much. Poppy?
HARLOW: Really significant reporting.
OK, so the president has been pushing for this trial to be over before Tuesday night. That, of course, is when he delivers the State of the Union address. It's not going to happen that way. Let's go to the White House -- actually, let's go to West Palm Beach this morning. Our CNN national correspondent Kristen Holmes is there. So there was a deal made essentially for this thing to get wrapped up, it looks like Wednesday, the morning after he gives his State of the Union address. What are you hearing from the president's team? Are they pleased with that or they're just resigned to it and happy that he is going to see an acquittal?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, they're really resigned themselves to the fact that when President Trump delivers his State of the Union on Tuesday that he will not be an acquitted man. Remember, these White House officials had hoped that President Trump could step into the House chamber, the House where, of course, he was impeached, the House which is really Nancy Pelosi's home turf, and do a sort of victory lap.
Now when we talk about that deal, it is important to note that President Trump signed off of this deal that said that the vote would be after his State of the Union address and it would be on Wednesday. We know Mitch McConnell and President Trump had a conversation before McConnell even put forward that resolution. But it might be this overall resignation among these Trump staffers that led to President Trump's mood last night at Mar-a-Lago. I talked to a source who said that they were surprised how quiet and distracted President Trump was, that there had been several conversations among members anticipating his arrival later in the day to celebrate what they believed was good news following that Senate vote where they were going to block any sort of new evidences or witnesses.
But that wasn't the case, that President Trump wasn't himself, he wasn't chatty. And while he didn't in any of the interactions that my source had with him bring up impeachment or the day's events, he didn't really talk that much about anything and he spent a short amount of time mingling. So you can see here that this is likely something that might be weighing on the mind of the president as well as his staff as they head into what they first at one point believed was going to be, again, a victory lap with this State of the Union.
HARLOW: Kristen Holmes for us there in West Palm Beach, thank you very much.
SCIUTTO: Joining us now to discuss all this, CNN senior legal analyst Preet Bharara, he's former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and CNN legal analyst Michael Gerhardt, law professor at the University of North Carolina. Let me begin with you if I can, Preet, pretty remarkable to see evidence here tying the president directly to this decision, and long before his lawyer, Patrick Philbin, the timeline he laid out just a couple of days ago, too late for the Senate. What's the significance?
PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The significance is mostly going to be nonlegal. It is going to be political because you had a proceeding, this impeachment inquiry and impeachment trial, during which you are supposed to decide these issues of whether or not the president of the United States abused his power and obstructed Congress. And so the thing that you have been mentioning this morning that's new is just one of many things that probably will come out and have been coming out in the last couple days and over the coming weeks, not the least of which is John Bolton's book, which I believe he will win the battle with respect to the release of his book, he will be going on television, perhaps even on this network, talking about other things that directly relate and link Donald Trump to the key issues in the impeachment trial.
And so I think the significance is that every senator who voted against having witness testimony generally and witness testimony from John Bolton specifically is going to have to answer each time there's a new revelation like this.
HARLOW: So Michael, to Preet's point, and it's a salient one, Jonathan Turley, of course, constitutional lawyer who was called by the Republicans during the House impeachment hearings, here's what he says this morning, "Had Democrats waited a couple of months as I had advised, they could have gotten Bolton's testimony and other witnesses as well as key court orders. It was a rush to a failed impeachment. History will view this decision to rush this vote as one of the baffling decisions of all time." Does this new evidence that we have, these new emails from OMB, et cetera, lend credence to his argument?
MICHAEL GERHARDT, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA: I think Jonathan is completely wrong. The House didn't rush to judgment. It's really important to keep in mind that what people are doing, what some senators are doing, what Jonathan is doing, is blaming the House for the president's refusal to produce evidence and witnesses. So the House hadn't run into any problems with witnesses, including John Bolton, it was because the president was ordering them to be silent, to stand down, to refuse to cooperate.
But what has been happening as you have been reporting, is a steady flow of revelations about the fact that the president of the United States was actually engaged in trying to obstruct Congress, and he was also trying to, again, keep witnesses from appearing before Congress. And the end result of all this, if I can just add, is that I think what we are seeing as well is that the lawyers who presented his case in the Senate basically misled or lied to the Senate. And so at one point -- at some point we are going to see ethics charges brought against these lawyers for making false statements, which we now all know were false.
HARLOW: Do you think the D.C. Bar, sorry, I was just going to say, is actually going to hold Pat Cipollone, for example, to account for this?
GERHARDT: They are accountable under the rules of professional conduct. Rule 3.3 requires lawyers in any forum, including the Senate, to be truthful and candid. One can't say that about these White House lawyers.
SCIUTTO: And as you say, these emails directly contradict an argument that Patrick Philbin made on the floor saying that the earliest this went back was early July. Now you have emails that contradict that.
[10:10:00] I want to, Preet, ask you from a legal perspective to respond to Lamar Alexander's argument, which is giving some other Republican senators some cover here, the inappropriate but not impeachable argument. It's remarkable for a Republican senator to say the House proved its case, they did, but not sufficient to then impeach the president. Based on the standard from your perspective, how do you respond to that argument?
BHARARA: Part of the problem is that we keep using as an analogy a traditional criminal case. And there are a million ways in which the impeachment proceeding, the impeachment trial is not like a real criminal trial. Among them you have jurors who actually are biased one way or the other. You have a judge in the form of Justice Roberts who is not really presiding in any significant way. And here is looks like there's another example of a disconnect between a real trial and the impeachment trial.
And what it sounds like Lamar Alexander is saying is that I hear the evidence, the government proved its case, and I don't think the punishment that is required by the proof being put out is appropriate. That I wouldn't, if I were sentencing him, not remove him from office because I think that's too much, which is a little bit different than what you would find in a criminal case. In a criminal case the only standard is do you find the case was proved at the required standard? And in this case he is admitting it was.
HARLOW: You're completely right, Preet. And then let's take it one step farther with what we heard from Senator Marco Rubio yesterday that goes way beyond even Senator Alexander. Quote, "Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest to remove a president from office." Michael Gerhardt, what would the Founding Fathers think about that?
GERHARDT: I actually they would probably think two things, if I could guess. One is they vested the authority in the Senate, ultimately, to try the president, but they placed that responsibility in the Senate because it was politically accountable. And so Senators Alexander and Rubio are actually being candid, I think, and being open about their reasoning.
So the Founders to some extent would say, yes, good for you that you're being candid and open. You're acknowledging essentially the grounds for your decision. That's fine. And then what the next step would be is holding them politically accountable for those decisions. And keep in mind as well that history will hold them accountable for these judgments as well.
SCIUTTO: So Preet, you have given some closing arguments in your time. We are going to hear those next week. Will they respond? Will the president's lawyers respond to this new evidence, to this argument that they have heard?
BHARARA: Probably not. With the revelation that happened over the past weekend, a week ago, about John Bolton and what was in his book, you saw largely the president just ignored it. And look, when you know that the fix is in at the end of the day -- and maybe that's too harsh a phrase to use -- but when you know you or your client will not be convicted and you know that you have an acquittal in the works, you can do a minimal amount of work.
And it's also, by the way, true that we've had hours and hours and hours of what has essentially been closing argument. We call them opening argument, but in light of the fact no new facts have emerged in connection with the trial, no new witnesses have come out, you are going to see a lot of repetition, and I don't know that the president's counsel needs to do much in response.
HARLOW: Thank you both very much. I think a lot of us thought maybe this thing will be wrapped up by this morning, but now we have a few more days next week and that big vote Wednesday. We appreciate you guys both coming in on the weekend for us.
Coming up, the U.S. is declaring a public health emergency as new research emerges showing the coronavirus maybe spreading even faster than originally thought in China. We'll bring you the latest.
SCIUTTO: Plus, the blitzing and pitching. Candidates making their final push for support in Iowa just two days before the caucuses there. We are going to be there live.
HARLOW: It's a pretty scary thought, the number of coronavirus cases in China could be much higher than what is currently actually being reported by that country. This is according to researchers in Hong Kong.
SCIUTTO: There's been some evidence that they were downplaying it early on. A paper published in the medical journal "Lancet" on Friday estimates that are now nearly 76,000 people in Wuhan, China, could be affected with the virus.
HARLOW: So what you're seeing there is Chinese officials now using drones equipped with speakers to warn citizens to wear their masks and to take other precautions. More than 250 people have already died from the coronavirus in China.
SCIUTTO: It's like a scene out of science fiction. This comes as the Trump administration is tightening travel restrictions from China after the U.S. declared the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency. There are at least seven confirmed cases in the U.S., Washington state, California, Arizona, and Illinois. David Culver, CNN international correspondent, he is in Beijing, Natasha Chen, CNN national correspondent, is following U.S. efforts to contain the virus at Atlanta's airport, of course, one of the biggest airports in the world.
First to David. So bring us up to date on the number of cases there and what China is doing in response? Because I think Americans would be amazed, China is basically walling off -- not walling off, but restricting travel in and out of major cities now. DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's becoming
increasingly isolated. You have got now, Jim and Poppy, this country at 1.4 billion people essentially in a globally-imposed quarantine. I want to address those numbers that you bring up from that Hong Kong researchers, and that is that 76-plus thousand that they really believe to have been infected with this virus, because that goes along with some of what we have been digging into.
My team and I here in Beijing, we have uncovered by talking firsthand with some of the nurses, some of the doctors, and some of the patients and their family members that these cases in some sense not being reported because they are either not getting tested, some of the patients, or the tests that are done are delayed in responses. So they're not getting the results, essentially. So that's something we have seen now for several days playing out, and it explains why these numbers may not be nearly as high as they are in actuality.
I also want to address what you saw with that drone video. This is pretty bizarre to see, and we are seeing this as more of a campaign of education and perhaps more awareness as the Health Commission here puts it. This is happening in rural areas mostly, in inner Mongolia, for example. And it looks light-hearted the way state media is portraying this. They will jokingly call out people in a front way, saying, hey, you over there, you're not wearing your mask. Put it on. But there's a serious undertone. And the folks who are not wearing their masks, the vast minority, I would say, are making others quite uneasy, and in some cases wearing masks here is mandatory, depending on where you are.
And there are some extreme containment efforts, Jim and Poppy, that are now under way. We're learning that the city of Hongguang which is just outside Wuhan, so the epicenter of all of this, within Hubei province, they're part of the lockdown, but they're going a step further. Today they announced that they will restrict people from leaving their homes. How are they doing that? They're saying one person from each household can leave the house every other day to get groceries and then come back. The exception being those who are either seeking medical treatment or those who are nurses and doctors or the virus control, or if you work at a pharmacy at a supermarket. But that's the extreme measures they're going to. The numbers affected are some 400,000 people, but they are saying it could be implemented wider, Jim and Poppy, to 7.5 million. That's essentially, you're talking about putting the state of Arizona in a similar situation population-wise.
HARLOW: Remarkable. OK, so Natasha, you're at the Atlanta Jackson- Hartsfield Airport, one of seven in the U.S. that is actually accepting these flights from China. Tell us about U.S. officials about to enact a limited travel ban in this country.
NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Poppy and Jim, we're talking about an announcement from the White House and CDC late yesterday where they're talking about any visitors, non-U.S. citizens, who may have been traveling within mainland China in the last two weeks, they are now temporarily banned from entering the United States.
For U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and their immediate family members, if they have been in the Hubei province, which is the epicenter of the outbreak within the past two weeks, they will be subject to a 14-day mandated quarantine. And to put this in perspective, there hasn't been such an order like that in the past 50 years in the United States, and there are currently 200 people being quarantined that way in southern California who recently flew back from China.
Americans arriving from other parts of mainland China will also be screened as ports of entry and will be subject to self-monitoring. But officials want to point out the risk of infection for Americans is still pretty low. And I can say that we've seen people who are traveling here to Asian countries wearing those masks. I personally saw that when I was traveling in Asia the last couple of weeks. I wasn't in mainland China, but I can tell you, in Taiwan and Japan where I was, the level of nervousness is extremely high with people spritzing our hands with hand sanitizer and even taking my temperature before allowing me to walk into a business over there. Jim and Poppy?
HARLOW: Natasha Chen, thank you for that reporting, and David Culver joining us from Beijing.
SCIUTTO: Don't miss the next headline. The Trump administration is now expanding broadly its travel ban, something critics have called an attempt to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. It now includes six news countries, all with significant Muslim populations. The immigration restrictions will now include Nigeria, Eritrea, Tanzania, Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar, also known as Burma. Nigeria, one of the largest black populations in the world, it's also a U.S. allies, one of the biggest economies in Africa. This comes three years after the president introduced his first travel ban. His administration argues the ban is vital to national security. The new restrictions will take effect February 22nd. Not to be missed.
Coming up, the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls making their final push ahead of Monday's Iowa caucuses. We're going to be live on the ground there.
HARLOW: Can you believe it, two days until the Iowa caucuses, and 2020 Democrats are blitzing the state today, three of the candidates hitting the Iowa trail for the first time after spending the week, of course, in D.C., Jim, for the impeachment trial.
SCIUTTO: That's right. A lot of folks had to be on the Senate floor of the impeachment trial is a big talking point on the trail today because Iowa voters will make their picks Monday, two days before the president is likely committed. With us now, CNN's Jeff Zeleny in Des Moines, and Kyung Lah in Bettendorf. Jeff, you have been covering this a long time, and consistently polling shows impeachment not high on the list of priorities, but it's certainly in the news. Do folks there express strong opinions about it?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, good morning. It's one thing that actually rarely comes up when you talk to Democratic voters, largely because they all agree on this. There's no difference of opinion among Democrats on the president's impeachment. Of course, several months ago that was quite different. But all of that has changed.
But it is a variety of other issues that are driving this campaign from really the direction of the Democratic Party on health care, on specifically on Medicare for all, the size and shape of the policies. But more than anything, President Trump is still at the center of the conversation. On the Democratic side of the campaign, it's all about electability. So many conversations with voters this week and for several weeks about who is the strongest Democrat to take on President Trump. So each of those candidates all are out this week giving their closing arguments to why they believe that's them.
HARLOW: And Kyung, you're in Bettendorf, Iowa, that is where Senator Klobuchar and her team are this morning. Talk to us about how she and those other senators who couldn't be there for the majority of the last few weeks, they had to be on the Senate floor as jurors in the impeachment trial, how are they making up for lost time?
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very briefly, you can take a look at this room. This room is completely packed. They're out here in force. To quote the senator, she's saying she's trying to jam in two weeks of campaigning in just two days. She's starting here in Bettendorf. She's then going to will fly all the way to the western portion of the state and then hit events in the center of the state. She's trying to make these large events, try to talk to as many voters as possible, and then targeting exactly which city she's going to in order to juice the turnout she needs in order to be viable in this state.
When you talk to her about what the plan is at this point, staffers say that they're trying to take it one day at a time. And yes, it's chaotic, and yes, it's hectic. But take a look what happened this last Tuesday. She was in Washington, there was a break in the impeachment, she flew from Washington to Council Bluffs with just four hours notice, jammed an even, and went all the way back to D.C. so that is the mood of this campaign. And when I asked, Poppy, if the senator is hired, her staffers say it is really go time. They understand that they have to push, and these last 48 hours, you can certainly tell the clock is ticking here.
SCIUTTO: So Jeff, it was interesting to note that in a fundraising email, Joe Biden's campaign is arguing that even a small delegate differential between candidates coming out of Iowa and New Hampshire could benefit him over time. I wonder as I read that, is this the Biden campaign pre-spinning the possibility of -- if not a poor showing in Iowa, New Hampshire, a disappointing one or not top-place finish there? ZELENY: Jim, there's no question all campaigns are lowering and
making their own expectations. Joe Biden, of course, is among that mix. He actually said a similar thing to reporters just last even in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. He was gaming this out, and said, look, if all candidates are bunched together, things aren't going to change that much. But if candidates aren't if there's a difference, of course, it will.
The point here is, this, we know, is going to be a long delegate fight. Think of 2008, the long campaign between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and 2016 between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. It is a fight for delegates. So with so many candidates in the race, this is going to go on a long time. But that's not to say that Iowa, the result on Monday night in Iowa doesn't matter. It does matter. Joe Biden knows that more than anyone else. He has invested so much time, so much money in this state, if he does not have a strong showing, that is going to raise all kinds of questions.
But others have a huge stake in this as well. I was at an Elizabeth Warren rally actually at a bar last night, a brewery here in Des Moines when she flew in just minutes after she got off the plane. She's back in the state, she's trying to put together her organization that really most Democratic officials here believe is one of the strongest in the state. And Bernie Sanders, of course, has been very strong in the final weeks of this campaign. So everyone is bunched together at the top right now. We'll see if they leave the state like that come Monday.
HARLOW: It's what makes Iowa so interesting, right. You've got such an engaged electorate, and this time around you just don't know who is going to end up on top, if you ask anyone.
Guys, speaking of Bernie Sanders, Kyung, freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib out stumping for Bernie Sanders, and she said something last night that got a whole lot of attention. Let's take a listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Iowa, we have three days. I don't know if you remember last week when someone by the name of Hillary Clinton said that nobody -- we're not going to boo. We're not going to boo. We're classy here.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, (D-MI): No, I'll boo. Boo! You all know I can't be quiet. No, we're going to boo. That's all right. The haters will shut up on Monday when we win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Kyung, she's talking about Hillary Clinton's criticism of Bernie Sanders in that interview that was released about a week ago. She's walking it back this morning?
LAH: She is. And let's put this into context. The Democrats in Iowa say that their number one goal is to defeat Donald Trump. So for this crowd here, where when we canvassed the crowd here, more than half of them say that they are undecided. That's the audience that may react, especially if they want to take out Donald Trump.
This morning, Rashida Tlaib backing off of what she did yesterday, that boo yesterday. And she tweeted this. Take a look at it. It says "In this instance I allowed my disappointment with Secretary Clinton's latest comments about Senator Sanders and his supporters to get the best of me. You all, my sisters in service on stage and our movement deserve better. I will continue to strive to come from a place from love."
So the congresswoman there trying to make amends for that moment, Poppy. But certainly that boo is being at least heard all way in rooms like this.
HARLOW: The boo heard around Iowa, around the country for sure this morning. Thanks very much to you both, great reporting in Iowa for us.
It is going to be a big week of special political coverage here on CNN. In addition, of course, to Monday's Iowa caucuses on Tuesday, the president will deliver the State of the Union address. Wednesday and Thursday, we have back-to-back presidential town halls from New Hampshire. So don't miss the special coverage all next week only right here on CNN.
The president is poised to win two very long and public battles waged by Democrats. But how will history interpret these divisive investigations? That's next.
SCIUTTO: Wednesday expected to mark the end of the third impeachment trial of a U.S. president. For months Americans have watched this historic but also bitterly divisive battle play out on Capitol Hill. And while we are days away from the final vote, will the impact be lasting not only on this president but future presidents?
HARLOW: We're joined now by former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean, who, of course, changed everything when he testified against President Nixon, and Jeffrey Engel, CNN presidential historian and co- author of the book "Impeachment, An American History." Thanks for being with us this morning, gentlemen.
John, let me just begin with you, not just how the president will leave is this, feeling emboldened, we know that, but also about how history will judge senators who said, Rob Portman, Lamar Alexander, Marco Rubio, this and is the appropriate but we're not really going to do anything about it?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I think it's not going to remember them well. It's been a pivotal moment for the Senate. They really didn't want to take the evidence. They seemed to be in trepidation of this president. And the fact that they're closing this down without a key witness who has volunteered to go forward, John Bolton, of course, is who I'm referring to, is really kind of shocking.
SCIUTTO: Jeffrey Engel, from a legal perspective, I'm curious what kind of precedents have been set here, because a lot of things have been thrown out wall to see if they stick. You had Alan Dershowitz saying a president can do anything he wants, in effect, if he deems his reelection in the national interest. Lamar Alexander said, yes, this is in appropriate but not impeachable. As Poppy was saying, Marco Rubio said yes, it may meet the standard of impeachment, but it still may not be in the best interest of the country to remove a president. Is impeaching a president to police bad behavior by a president, abuse of power, has it been watered down, diluted here?
JEFFREY ENGEL, CO-AUTHOR, "IMPEACHMENT, AN AMERICAN HISTORY": There's no doubt. There's no doubt it's been watered down because at this point what I think we've learned from this entire experience is as long as the president has at least a third of the Senate on their side, they basically have impunity to do whatever they wish in the sense what was really at stake here, I think, given that we all know that President Trump was not be removed by this particular Senate, what was really at stake was the power of the Senate and the way the Senate engaged the House in many ways. And the fact that we saw the Senate in this case, in this case the majority of the Senate, Republicans in the Senate, basically think of the House as their adversary and not the executive branch as their adversary, I think tells us that they really did not understand that their role was, if nothing else, to make sure a president knew that they were always going to be watched, always going to be checked upon.
The fact is, at this point, the president refusing to give over any documents is I think really the key issue at this point, because it demonstrates that future presidents don't have to regard congressional will whatsoever.
HARLOW: John, I wonder how significant or remarkable you think it is that we heard, our Kaitlan Collins got reporting comments from the president's chief of staff, John Kelly, who, again, chooses his words very carefully, and he called this impeachment trial yesterday a job only half done without witnesses, and said you open yourself up forever as a Senate that shirks its responsibilities. Is he right? And if he is, what is the significant of that going forward?
DEAN: I think his observation is certainly right on. The Senate did not tackle the problem in front of it. What I keep thinking about is the alternative, where are we now that they didn't do the job, they're not going to do the job, they are going to give him a pass on Wednesday when they hold him not guilty? That's not an exoneration, but it's certainly not the resolution of the impeachment. So what do you do? I think censure, which is an unusual proceeding and takes a simple majority of the House or Senate, is very much in order.
SCIUTTO: It would be remarkable if there was political appetite now given Republican pushback. Jeffrey, we're nine months from Americans going to the polls again.
It's going to be a bitter presidential race, particularly it seems this year. How does the president take his acquittal, do you think, going forward? Does he take it as license to seek foreign help, to pressure foreign countries for information whether true or not? What are we going to see play out as a consequence of this over the next nine months?
ENGEL: I think there's no doubt the president is going to see this as a victory and going to portray it as a victory. And I think we have to going forward remember that whatever has happened in the last month and a half over impeachment, history is really going to understand it in terms of what happens in the November elections, that is to say if President Trump is repudiated by the American people, then historians in the future will write about the way the House bringing charges before the American people really colored the sense of the election.
By the same token, if President Trump is reelected, people are going to look at the Democratic decision to impeach the president as nothing but a waste of time or a failure.
It's one of those terrible situations for historians where we know we don't know the answer yet, and we know that something going down the road, which we can pinpoint, is going to help us determine how we're going to write about it in the future.
HARLOW: Just before we go, John Dean, on the issue of censure, I believe, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it only takes a simple majority to censure the president? But McConnell would have the power to say yes or no to even bring it?
DEAN: The House can bring it to the Senate for a joint resolution, and put pressure on the Senate to take some affirmative action and rein in this president.
HARLOW: We'll see.
SCIUTTO: It would be remarkable if we saw a bipartisan resolution considering those divisions. John Dean, Jeffrey Engel, thanks to both of you.
DEAN: Thanks, Jim.
HARLOW: A very emotional night inside the House that Kobe built as fans packed the Staples Center to remember the Lakers superstar and eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, killed less than one week ago.
SCIUTTO: Welcome back. It's, of course, the dream for any football player to suit up for the Super Bowl. HARLOW: One of the 49ers learned that passion from his father, and it
continues to this day. Let's go straight to Miami. Coy Wire is there with more. It's the day before the big day.
COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Happy Super Bowl eve, Poppy and Jim. Almost every NFL player has a pregame ritual, a special playlist to listen to, a meal to eat, socks to wear, or even a precise number of coffees and red bulls to drink. Well, 49ers star George Kittle does a little light reading. Every Saturday he gets a letter from his dad Bruce. Bruce has written George a letter before every game for nearly 10 years. He says they're usually three to four pages long and have everything from trash talk to game plans, cartoons, and, of course, some inspiration. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE KITTLE, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS TIGHT END: It means the world to me. My dad is my best friend. He's been my best friend. He's why I play football. Football is kind of me and my dad biggest bond. And the fact that he writes me a letter every single week and takes the time to do it just means the world to me. I know the NFC championship letter, I think he said it took 20 hours for him to write. They're good letters. They're insane. He's a hell of a writer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: Pretty sweet. Bruce Kittle knows how to motivate George. He played college football before having a career as a college football coach. He played at the University of Iowa, and wouldn't you know it, that's where George chose to play to follow in dad's footsteps.
Kansas City's long journey back to the Super Bowl is 50 years in the making, and it makes one Chiefs legend so proud. My friend and former Falcons teammate Tony Gonzalez is a Hall of Famer who played 12 of his 17 seasons in Kansas City but never made it to a Super Bowl. This year's Chiefs have rallied from 10 and 24 points down in their playoff games to make it here. And Tony tells us that falling behind isn't a problem when you have Patrick Mahomes calling the shots.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY GONZALEZ, NFL HALL OF FAMER, PLAYED 12 YEARS WITH CHIEFS: I think it starts with Patrick Mahomes where he's somebody who says, hey, it's not over. Who cares? No lead is safe. It doesn't matter. So when we watched the game this week, if San Francisco is having success in that first half, it doesn't mean anything because we have a guy like this former MVP, and in my opinion the best quarterback in the NFL.
WIRE: Got to get a quick thought on who might ended up on top in this game. It's one of the closest Super Bowls ever in being favored, Chiefs barely, by a point and a half.
GONZALEZ: Coy, I've got to go with the old heart here, corazon, and I'm going to go with the Chiefs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: There you have it. More on the best Super Bowl story lines today on our CNN Bleacher Report special, "Kickoff in Miami." Andy Scholes and I joined by Jerry Rice, Drew Brees, Rob Gronkowski, and other superstars is at 2:30 eastern here on CNN. Back to you.
SCIUTTO: That's a great way to ring it in. Coy Wire, thanks very much.
Another story of course we've been following all week, the Lakers paid tribute to Kobe Bryant during the team's first game back since the NBA player's tragic death just last Sunday. Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed, you'll remember, in a helicopter crash. And 20,000 fans packed the Staples Center last night, and every single one received a jersey with Bryant's number on it.
HARLOW: LeBron James addressed the crowd, ditching his prepared remarks in favor of something very personal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEBRON JAMES, LOS ANGELES LAKERS FORWARD: Laker Nation, man, I would be selling you all short if I read all this, so I'm going to go straight from the heart.
JAMES: The first thing that comes to mind man is all about family. And as I look around this arena, we're all grieving. We're all hurt. We're all heartbroken. When we're going through things like this, the best thing you can do is lean on the shoulders of your family.
Everybody that's here, this is really, truly, truly a family. And I know Kobe and Gianna and Vanessa and everybody, thank you guys from the bottom of their heart, as Kobe said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Kobe and Gianna's jerseys were draped over those two courtside seats, with roses placed in them. After the game, Kobe's wife Vanessa posted a photo of those same chairs on Instagram with the caption "There's no 24 without number 2."
SCIUTTO: That's got to be just heartbreaking for her. "The L.A. Times" also reports that she plans to keep some of the items left by fans outside Staples Center. There's been so many. Planning for a public memorial now under way.