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Sen. Shaheen on impeachment trial outcome and New Hampshire primary

U.S. senators finally had an opportunity to speak their minds in the impeachment trial of President Trump on Tuesday. Each lawmaker was allocated 10 minutes for remarks, and their words echoed the partisan divisions that have characterized the entire trial. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., joins Judy Woodruff to discuss her impeachment views and what she’s expecting from her state’s upcoming primary.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And besides the vote in the Senate — or, rather, the vote on the verdict in the Senate impeachment trial, coming up one week from today is the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

    It's being held in the state of New Hampshire.

    For some perspective on both of these things, we turn now to New Hampshire's Democratic United States senator. She is Jeanne Shaheen.

    Senator Shaheen, thank you very much for joining us.

    We just heard…

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.:

    Nice to be with you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, you are most welcome here.

    We just heard Senator Thune say that it could well be that the president is helped politically by this impeachment process, just as President Clinton was helped some more than 20 years ago. How do you see it?

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

    Well, I don't think we know that. It's a long time from now until the election.

    I think the important thing for me was to take a look at what we were hearing from the House managers in terms of presenting the case for impeachment and what we heard from the White House defense counsel.

    And I think the House managers made their case, and we needed to do the right thing. Whether you supported the process or not, it was important. The Senate has a responsibility to fulfill our oath of office to be responsible to the Constitution. And that's what I tried to do.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you think it was right to bring these charges before the Senate for the president to be impeached?

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

    Clearly, the president's actions were inappropriate. I believe the House managers were successful in showing an abuse of power.

    He used his office to basically tell Ukraine he was going to withhold aid unless they investigated a political rival. That is not consistent with our Constitution, and so we needed to act on that.

    Once the president's actions had been uncovered, it was important for us to hold him accountable.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you think there is any other argument the House managers could have made to win over more votes, because it does now appear there are not going to be enough votes to convict?

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

    You know, I was particularly disappointed to see that we weren't able to call more witnesses, to get the documents that had been withheld by the White House, the first time ever in Senate history in an impeachment, not just of a president, but of federal judges, any impeachment, that no witnesses came before the Senate, that documents were not produced.

    It was clear that the president and the White House were stonewalling Congress. And I was disappointed that our colleagues in the Senate didn't agree with me that people like John Bolton, who had firsthand knowledge of what happened, wasn't able to come and tell his story to the Senate.

    I think most of my constituents and the American people agreed, if you're innocent, if this was a perfect phone call, as the president said, if he did nothing wrong, then why not tell the people who were closest to you who were in the room that they should come and testify?

    Even Richard Nixon had his advisers testify and swear under oath when they testified before Congress.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I want to turn your attention, Senator, to what's going on in your — the state you represent, New Hampshire.

    As you know very well, Iowa voted last night in its traditional Democratic caucuses for president. There were problems with that. We're just now beginning to learn partial results from those caucuses.

    What bearing do you think those results are going to have on what people, what Democrats do in New Hampshire?

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

    Well, you know, it's a long time. The nominating process is a long process.

    I'm from the first primary state. We believe that voters can go to the polls in a primary, and that that's a process that better reflects what's going to happen in November. A caucus is an interesting process, but it doesn't give one voter one vote at the ballot box.

    And so I'm looking forward to sighing what happens in New Hampshire and what happens afterward. There are a lot of contests between now and the nomination convention in this summer.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Who is hurt by what happened, do you think?

    We just learned these partial results, with Pete Buttigieg ahead in terms of what's called delegate equivalents, but Bernie Sanders is ahead in the raw count. Who is helped, who is not helped, do you think?

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

    You know, I think, because of the way the results are coming out, the — we still don't have full results. We still haven't had a chance to analyze what they mean.

    That has an impact on all of the candidates as they come into New Hampshire. So, the usual bump that you might get from Iowa as you come into the New Hampshire primary doesn't exist for anybody now.

    And so we're going to start all over again and see how the candidates do in New Hampshire, see what their organizations are like, see how people have responded to their messages.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Does this hurt the Democratic Party and ultimately the Democratic Party nominee for president?

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

    I don't think so.

    I think, again, it's a long time. There's a lot of news that's going to happen between now and the nomination convention in Milwaukee. There's a lot of news that's going to happen before the November election.

    So, I think, once the New Hampshire primary happens, people are not going to remember what happened in Iowa. They are going to be focused on Nevada and South Carolina and all the contests that come after New Hampshire.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senator, finally, how confident are you that the vote-counting process in New Hampshire is going to work as well as it should, which means accurately, on the night of the voting?

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

    I'm absolutely confident. New Hampshire has a paper trail. We have had a paper trail really since we have had the New Hampshire primary.

    This is something that we do every four years. We have a secretary of state who has been there, who knows how this works. And people are going to see credible results, and they're going to come out primary night.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    No mistakes?

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

    No mistakes.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right. We heard it from you.

    Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, thank you very much.

  • Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:

    Thank you.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And a reminder that you can watch the "PBS NewsHour"'s coverage of the State of the Union address on PBS, on the "NewsHour" right here.

    You can also watch YouTube channels and all of our "NewsHour" social media channels. That's starting at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 Central.

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