tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 10, 2020 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
secretary mark esper, and senator mike lee and and tom steyer. that is sunday at 9:00 a.m. stay tuned for wolf blitzer and the "situation room." and now, the president is claiming that qassem soleimani was planning to attack four embassies. nancy pelosi is say that she is ready to send over the articles of impeachment to have a trial start very soon. and now, cnn is told that there is strong evidence showing that iran was behind the downing of a ukrainian airliner, and tonight, the dramatic video of the moment it crashed. and now, tensions on the
high seas as a russian spy ship is aggressively closing in on to american warship, and what kind of signal is vladimir putin sending to president trump? i'm wolf blitzer in the "situation room." a day after claiming that iran's top commander was planning to attack a u.s. embassy, and president trump saying that general qassem soleimani was planning to attack four embassies and justifying the killing by an american droem, but the president and the team are not ovffering any evidence and democrats and some republicans are criticizing the intelligence they have seen. meanwhile, an impeachment trial could start next week now that nancy pelosi has said that she is preparing to send the two articles of impeachment against the president in the senate next week. we will talk about that with senator markey and former senator and defense secretary
chuck hagel, and correspondents and analysts also standing by. first, straight to the white house. our chief white house correspondent jim acosta is joining us. jim, the week after the killing of the top general, the president and the team are still trying to justify it. >> that is right, wolf. the trump administration is still trying to get the story straight about the threat about the killing of question sem soleimani. one day that it was said that he tried to blow up one embassy and then it was shifted to four embassies, and then top officials are claiming that soleimani was an imminent threat to america, and yet they could not say when or where an attack might occur and the kind of to details that are normally critical to describing something as imminent. >> reporter: still in search of the justification for taking out iranian general qassem soleimani, now, the justice department says that he was planning to attack multiple embassies. >> i can reveal it is four
embassies. >> reporter: that is more than the president said a day earl r earlier. >> we did it because he was looking to blow up one of our embassies. a >> and so he said that there were a series of imminent attacks. >> there is no doubt that there were imminent attacks by qassem soleimani, but it is real. >> it was imminent. you never know the time and place of these things. with perfect targeting. >> reporter: and secretary of state mike pompeo seemed to have more details. >> you said that yu didn't know precisely when or precisely where? >> right. those are consistent thoughts. >> reporter: and he said that there was a con ssistency of th
information. >> we have told them about the imminent threat and in the classified setting we have provided. >> reporter: but the democrats say it is all word of them. >> not one word is mentioned of it. is it true? i don't know. we did not hear that >> i don't know where he got that from, but that is par for the course for this president. >> in the multiple briefings on this, they have not shown imminence. >> reporter: the president targeted soleimani at a rally in ohio saying no way he would have briefed nancy pelosi before the strike. >> we got a call, and we heard where he was. we knew the way he was getting there. and we had to make a decision. we didn't have time to call up nancy who is not operating with a full deck. >> reporter: the inconsistencies could become a major headache who once told wolf blitzer,
george w. bush should have been impeached for lying about the war in iraq. >> and bush got us into the horrible war by lying and saying they had weapons of mass destruction and saying all sorts of things that were not true. >> reporter: as for the iranian threat, the trump administration is reviewing more details with one official saying that on the same night of the soleimani strike, the american forces targeted a second iranian mission in yemen, but that mission was unsuccessful and one more problem for the white house as the iraqi minister is looking at a withdrawal from the country. >> we are happy to continue a conversation with the iraqis about the right structure. our mission is clear. we have been there to perform a training mission to help the iraqis to be successful and to continue the campaign against isis. >> reporter: the trump administration announced more sanctions with further punishment of the economy.
the white house is hoping that it will proud iran to get back to the bargaining table, and that seems to be hard of that happening because they have closed the door to talk to the trump administration about anything. and new negotiations between the u.s. and iran at this point don't sound in a word very imminent. >> good point. jim acosta, thank you. after a month-long delay the house speaker nancy pelosi says she is preparing to send the two articles of impeachment against president trump to the senate next week. our senior congressionalu raja n capitol hill. how quickly would that happen? >> within days. the opening arguments could occur days after that, and the steps are going to look like this. nancy pelosi will put a measure on the floor to name the impeachment articles, and then the prosecutor will try to make
the case that the president should be removed from office and that case is going to be led by adam schiff, and gerry nadler and other democrats will be named to the team by nancy pelosi next week. after that what will happen, is once the arguments begin and probably the week after that, the white house will have its defense team to make the case on behalf of the president. what the white house is hoping for is this to move quickly as the senate republicans are as well. they want it done potentially by february 4th, the president's state of the union so he can use it as a rallying cry of sorts to use these likely acquittal to make the case that he never should have been impeached in the first place and to make the case before the nationally televised calendar and looking at the calendar, and that could happen by the february 4th time line and one twist is whether or not witnesses are going to be called in the witness, and it
would only require four republicans to break ranks and compel john bolton, the former national security adviser and acting chief of staff mick mulvaney to testify. but they have not shown the hands yet, and they have said they were interested in seeing the potential witnesses, and so that pressure is going to grow. so it is a consequential month ahead as he is looking to get acquitted by the senate. >> we will see if he is acquitted by the state of the union address that he is scheduled to deliver february 4th. thank you manu raja for that. and now, some details of the deadly plane crash in iran, and now with ukrainian officials. clarissa ward is joining us from kiev. and clarissa, you have had a chance to speak where the t ukrainian foreign minister and what did he tell you? >> wolf, cnn has obtained new
cctv footage that appears to show the dramatic and the extraordinary force of the impact as the ukrainian airliner slammed into the ground in teher teheran. you can see what appears to be the airplane essentially exploding into many, many pieces and scattering outm among a huge area, and we sat down with the ukrainian foreign minister and he is cautious and circumspect of saying cat gegorically what caused the crash, and could be pilot error or terrorism, but leaning towards the possibility that it is in fact an iranian missile that shot it down. this is after the conversations with the u.s. charge d affair here. is it fair to say that the evidence they presented to you
was compelling? >> the evidence they presented to us is very, very solid, and what is missed in the picture is how they supported it be i the fa bsh by the facts on the ground, and so if it is the rockets, there will be residue of the chemicals. >> reporter: he said that they are having difficulty of locating some of the chairs from the airplane and he believes these chairs could allow the 50 investigators on the ground to have a better sense of what happened with the plane, wolf. >> clarissa, witnesses are saying that much of the debris from the crash site has been moved and how is that is going to impact the investigation? >> certainly it is problematic for the ukrainians and we asked the foreign minister what had been going on, on the ground and how much access the investigators on the ground had to the access to the site, and this is what he told us about
the conditions on the ground. >> reporter: have your investigators on the ground come across the allegations that ukrainians have been cleaning the site basically and removing evidence from the site? >> we are unhappy what we are seeing especially when we saw that the locals are coming around and picking up things and touching the things and taking something from the ground. we had to stop and with the cooperation with the iranian side, we have managed to secure the ground. so keep in mind, wolf, the ukrainians are walking a fine line here, and that is why they are being so cautious and while they are not delighted with every aspect of how the iranians are facilitating the investigation, they cannot afford the alienate the iranians and they need to have a reconciliatory tone to have good access to the site to find out once and for all why this plane
went down, wolf. >> thank you for reporting from ukraine for us. let's get some more on this, and ed markey from massachusetts is joining us, a member of the foreign relations committee. senator, thank you for joining us. i wanted to begin with the new claim from the president, and have you seen any new evidence that the iranians were planning to attack four american embassies? >> absolutely not. just two days ago, wednesday afterno afterno afternoon secretary pompeo and secretary esper and they all briefed 100 senators on this question of imminent threat to the united states as a justification for the assassination of general soleimani, and we sat there for 75 minutes, waiting to get the evidence. we waited to get the information which would prove there was an imminent threat. what we heard for the 75 minutes
was that it was something that could have happened days or weeks from now, and they did not give us any specific targets. they got up after 75 minutes to walk out of the room, and at least a dozen senators to ask more follow-on questions, but it was aimed to answer the question of what were the targets and when were those targets going to be hit. we didn't have any information and then 24 hours later, the president says, well, it was an embassy. and then 48 hours later, the president is saying, well, it is four embassies, and so it is outrageous, wolf, that there is an absolute cavalier indifference that this administration has for the united states senate that in closed briefing, secret session, they would not give us this
information, but yet for fox news, the president can do an interview that reveals all of this without, without having first disclosed it to the senate. >> how do you explain that, senator? >> well, it is out ray jous sr believe they can treat the congress irrelevant. >> what do you do about this, senator? >> well, it is out ray jous that we cannot get information on inr
briefing about whether there should be more information to the congress, and why it is important to have the same debate on the senate floor next week, because the president has to be made accountable. what he just did in the last two days in denying us the information to which we were entitled is a further indication unless we ratchet up the level of pressure, we could easily slip into a situation whereby accident because of to lack of oversight of trump and his advisers are able to make decisions that could be potentially dangerous for our national security. >> while i have you, senator. let's quickly talk about the president's impeachment trial. in the senate the speaker says she is going to send the two articles of impeachment to the senate next week, and is that the right call? >> well, again, i think that nancy pelosi has handled this masterfully, because she withheld, we have been able to
one, find out that bolton would be willing to testify, and two, gain access to e-mails which are going to shed a spotlight in terms of what was happening, and give us the opportunity and has thus far to put more pressure on the republican senators to come to an arrangement where we have witnesses, mulvaney and bolton and others who have first-hand information about what the president knew and when he knew it and there is no guarantee that ultimately the republicans are going to give us those witnesses, because mcconnell keeps saying that he has the 51 votes to proceed and that they will make the decision later as to whether or not there are witnesses. and later with mitch mcconnell is going to mean never, i am afraid. the time that nancy pelosi gave us is valuable because public pressure is intensifying on the republican senators to make sure that there is a full and fair trial and witnesses and the american public get the information from the witnesses
who were denied on the house side and that all of that is going to be directly relevant in informing the senators' judgment if they want to remove trump from office. i think that nancy pelosi did the right thing, and so, at the appropriate time when she sends it over, we'll be ready to proceed. >> you and your colleagues in the senate are going to be very busy in the next two to three weeks. senator markey, thank you for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> stay with us for more on the trump administration of shifting claims of the threat posed by general qassem soleimani. today, the president said that he was targeting four embassies before he was killed. extraordinary new pictures of a very close call on the high seas in what appears to be another provocation by vladimir putin's military. trump: obamacare is a complete
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president trump now says that iranian general qassam soleimani was targeting four embassies before he was killed, but there is no evidence that there was an imminent plot or attack. joining us is jeff kagel who was a republican senator from nebraska before becoming the secretary-general. so this does not seem to line up what was said just last night. listen to this. >> there is no doubt that there were a series of imminent attacks plotted by qassem soleimani and we don't know precisely when or precisely where, but it was real. >> how do you square that seemingly different sense of the significant imminent attack
could have been? >> well, wolf, i have not seen any intelligence, and i guess neither has the congress on the stories that they keep changing, and they keep adding to. so the consistency is not there. the context shifts at the same time, and i don't know. it is clear to me that they had no clear strategy with what they were doing, and not only strategy for taking out soleimani, but also second and third order effects. what would be the diplomatic strategic objective to do that? what were the other places that you believed that you could win by taking this action? >> if soleimani was plotting attacks against four u.s. embassies and presumably in the region and why not inform the u.s. senators and the u.s. members of the house in advance? i mean not in advance of the operation necessarily, but shortly briefing them in advance of the public statements from
the president? >> well, it is pretty basic, wolf. certainly the gang of eight, and the eight leaders of the congress and the house and the senate who have most responsibility for these type of issues, intelligence and top secret materials, and there is no excuse for that, and what i heard from the members of congress both publicly and privately on the catastrophic 75-minute so-called briefing, i am astounded by that, because i recall when i was secretary of defense when president obama pulled the syrian operation down. we all went up there. days, and very shortly two or three days after it occurred and sat with members of congress for a long time, and as long as they wanted to sit there to explain. now, we had other exchanges with them before that, but that is just part of the process responsibility of working with
the congress, but i would make one observation on this, wolf. it is clear that this president has completely trivialized congress. he has made them irrelevant and the congress has helped him to do that. so why would he? why does he think that he should? and the cavalier attitude that they take towards the congress. the congress has some responsibility for that, and that has been growing. >> let's talk about the u.s. troop presence in iraq right now, and secretary of state mike pompeo is totally rejecting the iraqi call for the next steps in all of this from the parliament and now the prime minister has said that the u.s. should end the presence, military presence in the country. what is going to be the impact, do you believe, of the killing of soleimani on the u.s./iraqi relationship? >> well, already we are seeing the consequences and impact starting with what you just
said. a sovereign nation is saying that we want your troops out. now, this is a nation that we have spent over $1 trillion on and more than 4,000 dead americans gave their lives, and they have been an ally and we have worked with them, and they turn around to say this. so where are we winning here? where is the good news here? not only that, we have some of the nato allies pulling their troops out, the germans and the canadians have pulled their troops out. very few of our allies anywhere, especially in western europe have supported what we have done here. we have made everybody's life more dangerous, and so, i can't understand the response from secretary pompeo saying, which i heard today, no, we won't take our troops out. we will talk about it. this is a sovereign nation. this is an ally of ours. it is very important to us and our presence and stability and whatever stability still exists in the middle east that we work with them.
>> so the prime minister of iraq said that the u.s. violated the iraqi sovereignty by targeting soleimani on iraqi soil, and let me hear your thoughts on this spy ship in the iranian sea and you can see how close these two vessels and the ships got. and how concerning is this? you understand russian military attitudes towards the u.s. >> well, i think that this is what putin always likes in the sense that where there is instability, there is insecurity, there is mistrust, and there is volatility, he will find the crevices and the nooks to operate within those. he is already in the middle east in a big way, obviously, and we saw it this week, he was in damascus and right to damascus and then to turkey to meet with erdogan. and that episode with the navy is, i think it is reflective of
russia's attitude, their arrogance, they're minimizing danger and therein relies a volatile and unpredictable, and dangerous situation. >> the russians have been gaining in the middle east in that part of the world and their influence is growing. thank you sor jofor joining us. former secretary chuck hagel. and now, the impasse of impeaching president trum appears to be ending. how soon will the trial begin.
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it now looks like the long congressional standoff of impeaching president trump is about to end. today the house speaker nancy pelosi said she is prepared to send the two articles of impeachment to the senate next week. and so, gloria, what do you think, is this the right time to send them over? >> i don't know if it is the right time or the time is running out on her. i think that she was playing an epic game with mitch mcconnell and these are two wiley people who knows the rules of each of
the chambers. she thought she could take him out a little bit and get some idea of how he intended to run impeachment in the senate, and he said no way, i will start it without you effectively, but in the end what she did by holding back is that she allowed the news to percolate, and the fact that one, john bolton is willing to testify, and also in the interim, you can see that the e-mails, et cetera, regarding ukraine and the office of management and budget and the question of the president's involvement in holding up the funding, and so she has managed to help produce an argument that the senate needs to have witnesses, because bolton is willing to testify, and there is other information that really needs to come to light. >> absolutely true, but one other thing that i took from the week, mitch mcconnell like him or hate him, and very few people who feel indifferently about
him, and this a show of force. his capacity to say, we are ready and i have 50 people on board, and he hadley is a murkowski and mitt romney and so that is a show of force for him. just as the republicans in the house complained that their minority rights were trampled on, and now the republicans are in charge, and what mitch mcconnell showed this week that at least for now, and at least to start the trial, there is several phases here, but to start the trial, he is as in as better control of his republican senators than a lot of people thought. >> and now, shawn turner, the president told fox news that he may invoke executive privilege to prevent john bolton from appearing before the senate, and there any rational for doing so? >> well, wolf, in a word no.
presidents typically invoke executive privilege for two things, either to protect the white house deliberations, because they believe it is in the best interests of the public to do sor or releasing the information, it would threaten national security and in bolton, neither applies there. is no rational for blocking the testimony, because hearing the testimony would shed light on understanding an issue that was a national security threat. so there is no rational, and while i don't believe that bolton is going to be called to testify, but if he is called to testify, and the president wants to invoke the executive privilege and if ever there is a time to challenge it, this is a case that the congress should do so and a pretty good chance they could win. >> but wolf, this is the situation where the process matters almost more than substance. because if the president succeeds in challenging bolton's testimony, if he goes to court
to try to stop him, the very act of going to court may take longer than trial itself. that has been tremendous advantage that the administration has had throughout the democratic control of the house of representatives is that simply by tying things up in court, and especially in something to move as fast as this trial in the senate that he may succeed in keeping bolton off stage even if ultimately he loses the case in court. >> and jeffrey, i'm not a lawyer and certainly not a judge, but what is more important than what any judge would have sitting before him or her other than adjudicating this issue, and couldn't it speed it up a little bit, the impeachment of the president of the united states at stake? >> sure i mean -- >> what is more important. >> i don't doubt that any judge would handle it as quickly as possible, but you are still talking about days. i mean, they would have to hear
briefing and certainly the case would go to the court of appe s appeals, and if not the supreme court. and here is a situation where the republicans are determined to get it over with by the state of the union by february 4th. >> yeah, well. >> and even a delay of two or three days could push this past the time that mcconnell wants to shut down this trial, and as chris pointed out and he runs this conference in the pretend moderates like susan collins, and they fall into line and that is what they do here. >> everybody standby because there is so much to discuss. my colleague abbey philip of cnn and brianna fanesteil as the cnn democratic presidential debate in partnership with the des moines "register" is is going to be this tuesday at 9:00 p.m.
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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. we are back with the analysts and the experts. crystal, if the speaker nancy pelosi sends the two articles of impeachment to the senate next tuesday or wednesday, how long is that thing going to go on the trial? >> well, short answered, and honest answer, we don't know. i think that you are sure that the republicans are to get it wrapped up and so are the democrats and february 3rd is the iowa caucus and then the state of the union and a busy couple of days there with that on the 4th.
say that the vote next wednesday and they appoint managers. there going to be a few days in there of the logistical stuff, and getting everything in order, and first votes on the opening of the trial, and then we have martin luther king day, so my guess is that next week is when it begins in earnest, and now how long does it go? that is going to be dependent, wolf, as arthur is mentioning, are there witnesses. remember that mitch mcconnell's strength here is to keep the 53 republicans in line if lisa murkowski or mitt romney or susan collins all of whom express some level of interest of hearing from the witnesses, and that is three and they need four, but if they are going over to the democratic side and you can get 51 votes for a witness as there were in the clinton impeachment trial of three, then it will wrap up sooner. >> and now, the key role of the
u.s. supreme court justice john roberts will play in the trial? >> well, according to the constitution, he presides, but it is a different scenario of the judges as we think of them. what is incredibly unusual about this circumstance is that the judge, if he makes any rulings, he can be overruled by the jury. 51 votes in the senate can overrule any decisions of the chief justice, so chief justice roberts will act like chief justice rehnquist did in the clinton trial where he did a lot of presiding, but not a lot of ruling. and i think that he is going to look, roberts to keep the head down and let the politicians resolve it, because it is fundamentally a political manner. >> that is the inclination, to sit there and preside and that is it. >> the trial will start everyday at noon and go on for six or
seven hours. >> and even through the weekends. >> so we will watch it all closely. everybody stick around and more news following the frightening moments at sea as the russian spy ship gets aggressively and dangerously close to an american warship. americans come to lendingtree.com to compare and save on loans, credit cards and more! but with the new lending tree app you can see your full financial health, monitor your credit score, see your cash flow and find out how you can cut your monthly bills. download it now to see how much you can save.
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there's dramatic video of a close encounter at see between russian and american war ships. brian, this comes as president putin is clearly siding with iran in the current conflict with the united states. >> wolf, there's serious concern that vladimir putin is drawing closer to iran, especially in the wake of qassem soleimani's killing. the two adversaries, commentiem their alliance. making another move against a u.s. war ship. vladimir putin's navy again taunts a war ship. pentagon officials telling cnn the russian ship got as close as 180 feet, provoking horn blast
warnings with guns drawn. the russians say this was the americans' fault, but putin's aggression, including oversight of hypersonic missile test off crimea. putin's foreign minister calls the killing illegal. >> soleimani is someone the russians worked well with, they had the same mind-set, both master's of hybrid war father, russian security and intelligence services and soleimani and his force, so they had a lot in common and common enemy in specifically the united states. >> soleimani worked closely with putin and security advisers, according to reuters traveling to moscow in 2015, 2016, and 2017. going over military strategy in syria, and arranging russian weapons deliveries there. neither russians nor iranians admitted meetings took place, but they say soleimani's regime
and putin worked toward the same goals in syria. >> the confluence of interest was really in keeping assad in power, preventing a western backed regime change from occurring, from the opposition gaining control. so to that end, both hezbollah, iran, assad, and russia worked hand in glove, sometimes tactically on the battlefield. >> and they're still in lock step, tonight putting the same spin on the downing of a ukranian passenger plane in iran. russians and iranians rejecting the intelligence from the u.s. and its allies that iran fired missiles which brought the plane down. >> these are both autocratic states that built their grip in power on lies and propaganda. russian and iran have a mutual interest in obfuscating the cause of the crash. >> that's because a u.s. official says russian made missiles were used in downing of the plane. tonight, analysts warn putin's dangerous alliance with iran could undermine president trump and america's interests in the middle east. they warn if iraq forces trump
to pull american forces out of iraq, the man in the kremlin could step into the power void. >> putin is opportunistic. he will use every opportunity to capitalize on regional discontent with the united states to undermine the united states, to paint the united states as an unpredictable, unreliable partner. >> would vladimir putin support any terrorist hits or other plots by iran to retaliate against the u.s. for the soleimani killing? russia experts disagree. some believe putin wouldn't support retaliation from iran because he would fear the instability it might cause. others say the former kgb colonel would have no problem with a retaliation plot as long as it doesn't have his fingerprints on it. >> thank you. coming up, president trump claims not one but four u.s. embassies were facing attack from iran's top general before the u.s. took him out.
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happening now. ending the impasse. president trump's senate trial could begin as soon as next week as house speaker pelosi signals she's finally ready to let go of the articles of impeachment. a clear explanation why iran's top general was considered imminent threat. president trump is changing his story. pilot's last words. new information on the final moments on board the passenger plane that was likely shot down by iran killing 176 people on board. stand by for details and extraordinary new video.
a new iowa poll, a snapshot of the democratic race weeks before the contest. one candidate gaining clear momentum in a close four-way race. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." new tonight. house speaker nancy pelosi appears ready to end the weeks long standoff over president trump's impeachment trial. she says she's preparing to send the articles of impeachment to the senate next week. the trial could begin soon after that. also tonight, president trump now claims the iranian commander he ordered killed was planning attacks on four united states embassies. the administration refusing to show evidence or explain that the threat was imminent. reaction from senate armed services committee senator richard blumenthal. correspondents and analystsre