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Top Dems supporting Pelosi's stance against impeachment, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) CA. says, impeaching Trump is just not worth it, U.K. bans Boeing 737 Max 8 planes form U.K. airspace, Fmr. Sen. Joe Biden (D) Delaware teases possible president run as Dems await his decision, Stacey Abrams considers possible presidential bid in 2020, Aired 10- 10:30 ET

Aired March 12, 2019 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: All right, a very good morning to you. I'm Poppy Harlow.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Jim Sciutto in New York. The reaction pouring in this morning, we're hearing from more democrats, many of whom are backing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's call to hold off for now on impeachment plans, saying that she has made her thoughts clear. They trust her instincts, but making clear as well that the door is not completely closed.

HARLOW: Pelosi called the President unfit to be president. She also told The Washington Post, quote, impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there is something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path because it divides the country and he's just not worth it.

Let's get more reaction on Capitol Hill. Our Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju is there. So, I mean, divided reaction within the Democratic Party to Pelosi specifically, I think, Manu, saying he is not worth it.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's absolutely right. For the most part, democrats, even who started supporting impeachment, are agreeing with Pelosi for now, saying it's okay, that she has come down this way. Perhaps public opinion could shift and eventually sway the Speaker to move forward on impeachment.

But I can tell you, I talked to a number of democrats this morning who want this President removed from office. And they are making it clear that for now they are backing her, the leadership is backing her, the House majority. Steny Hoyer told me that he essentially agrees with her. The committee chairman, including Jerry Nadler, says he does, as well. Even Maxine Waters, who has been a leader of the impeachment push, said that, well, Pelosi has always been skeptical about impeachment. And I said, are you disappointed in her? She said, I am not.

Now, I just also caught up with Rashida Tlaib, who is a freshman democrat from Michigan, who has been a major proponent of impeachment. Of course, she is expletive to describe her desire to impeach the President. And the first day here on Capitol Hill, it got a lot of attention. I asked her about this as well. She said this. She's still going to continue to push for a resolution to impeach the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Are you disappointed with her?

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), M.I.: No, absolutely not. I don't think -- I want to be very clear -- just be clear. Speaker Pelosi has always encouraged me to represent my district, has never told me to stop, has never told me to do anything differently ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So she went on to say that she will -- the resolution is going to be about essentially beginning an investigation into this President. So she said that she is not disappointed in the speaker, but wants to continue to pursue this going forward.

Now, I'm also told that at this closed door caucus meeting for democrats, this was not a subject that Pelosi brought up. Now, the subject that she talked about in there is clear effort by the leadership to try to move on beyond this because she believes, a lot of her allies believe that going down this route would be fruitless, would be a major distraction, would be ultimately unsuccessful in the republican-controlled Senate. So she's temped down rebellion of sorts for now. But we'll see if any of that changes when the Mueller report is released. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: All right, Manu, thanks for the reporting.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now to talk about all this, CNN's Senior Political Analyst, John Avlon. You know, the especially the Pelosi reporting, that the phrase that has been under played is her saying, unless there is something compelling, overwhelming and bipartisan. I mean, that's one, the standard for impeachment, high crimes and misdemeanors. But also the math is you can impeach all you want, but you need two-thirds to convict, remove.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. I mean, this is partly practical. I mean, once you get to the Senate, republicans aren't going to convict unless you hit a high standard with something from the Mueller report that is so big and so bombshell that it becomes bipartisan. That's practical. And it is also wise. It's wise in terms of the country because impeachment itself is such a divisive destructive process, it would compound all the polarization, bipartisanship we're facing.

So you get that fact. You get the practical hurdles that are really profound and then you get the fact, the political consideration, which is democrats know that there was major blowback politically to the impeachment of Bill Clinton that benefitted them and republicans at that time. HARLOW: Remind us of his approval rating.

AVLON: His approval rating ended up being 69%.

HARLOW: The highest.

SCIUTTO: Out of the --

AVLON: Yes. I mean, completely insane in the wake of that.

So all those factors, I mean, it's not the emotionally satisfying thing to do, it's not the play to the base thing to do, which we're conditioned to see but it's the smart move for all those reasons.

SCIUTTO: Because there is a danger here, is there not? And, again, I don't want to pre-stage what's going to come out of the Mueller report. But there is some speculation that it does not provide the bombshell and/or hard evidence of actual cooperation conspiracy with Russians, which will be something that the democrats will have to explain, right? And then, granted, there are other strains of investigation that are continuing, some of them are expanding outside of election interference.

But, politically, is it not smart, politically, to kind of lower expectations at this point for the democratic base?

[10:05:00]

AVLON: To the extent that all political cycles are about expectations, yes. Look, we're going to have to follow the facts, where they go with the release of the report, when and if it is fully released. There are plenty others, 17 by some count, other investigations ongoing about Donald Trump, the different places in his life, about money and other issues.

But impeachment is such a high bar as it should be as set up from the founders. Unless there is something that is overwhelming evidence about involvement with a foreign power to win an election, dishonesty with the American people, profiting off the office, those are the kinds of standards the founding fathers imagined under the political standard of high crimes and misdemeanors. And so it makes sense to lower the bar and then fair amounted folks are going to have to see where the facts go when the report is released.

HARLOW: There is all this talk now about the risk to democrats and the party as a whole of sucking up the oxygen with this debate. Isn't that exactly what they are doing by debating whether they should be debating this?

AVLON: Well, I think what Nancy Pelosi is trying to do is to sort of put a cap on it.

HARLOW: Yes. But now, that's what they are all talking about today and those are all the questions that they're getting at.

AVLON: For today. I mean, it's true. The President just put forward his budget. There is a lot to debate in there. And there is always the danger in our politics that everything does become a distraction where I think that's the real focus should be on the substance, the real fights that matter today.

But I think she is trying to set a marker. She is trying to put a talk on some of that. Remember, republicans talk more about impeachment during the last midterm election than democrats did. It has been a rally, the base call -- cry for republicans. So this is a counterintuitive move to some extent for a democratic speaker.

SCIUTTO: Is she also, to some degree, taking a bullet for members here, in other words, to give them cover to say, listen, heck, I want to go down this path but leadership is not, right? I mean, give them a path out, right?

AVLON: It absolutely gives them a path out because at the end of the day, the Speaker of the House has a lot of power and what agendas are going to get moved forward. But, again, it's a concession to reality, it sets expectations. And also I don't think this should be dismissed. We're really unused to it right now, but political figures thinking about the good of the country as well as their party and the sheer divisiveness of an impeachment proceeding, and not simply running to it because it is emotionally satisfying for the base right now.

SCIUTTO: That's not a bad thing, right?

AVLON: No, that's a good thing.

HARLOW: Thank you, John.

SCIUTTO: It would be nice to have an adult in the room. John Avlon, thank you.

HARLOW: Nice to have you.

Also on this story, we're following very closely on that deadly aircraft crash. Moments, ago the United Kingdom became the latest country to bar temporarily one of the most widely used planes in commercial aviation. The new state of the art Boeing 737 Max 8 jet has now been involved in two major crashes in the last five months. The latest was Sunday just after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. All on board that plane were killed, just like in the crash, the fatal crash last month of that Lion Air jet last fall in Indonesia.

SCIUTTO: And now, a growing list of countries and more than two dozen airlines have grounded the Max 8. In fact, just in the last few moments, Norwegian Airlines, a major European carrier added to the list. The U.S. still isn't among them. The FAA still isn't among them. That's a growing source of concern for U.S. flight crews. The American Association of Flight Attendants reportedly told the FAA, quote, we need help from the regulators when the entire world is looking at two catastrophic incidents that happened on the same aircraft type within five months of each other, pilots also expressing concerns. Let's discuss now with Peter Goelz. He's a former NTSB Managing Director. Peter, always good to talk to you. And, Peter, you know, we've talked for a number of years about flight issues. You have always been a smart guy, a lot of experience, very conservative in your statements. It surprised me that folks in that same category, Mary Schiavo, Peter Soucie have told us in the last 24 hour, you know what, they've got to put this plane on the ground. And I wonder if you agree.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: Well, I think the pressure is building, that the U.K. this morning made that call to say, put this plane down. And they were joined earlier by both Singapore and Australia. Those are three very respected regulatory agencies. I would say the pressure has built to an almost unbearable level for the Department of Transportation and the FAA. I think if they don't hear something today from the investigators on the ground, they are going to have to act.

And I think the pressure is building on the carriers too. I know American Airlines and Southwest are both feeling pressure from their pilots, from their flight attendants on what are they going to do. So, I mean, this is a pretty serious event when the U.K. stepped up.

HARLOW: We've just learned, Peter, that Brazilian airline, Gol Linhas, has suspended using 737 Max 8s just in the last few moments.

[10:10:02]

Look, we know that they are already, after the Lion Air crash, doing the software upgrade that's going to be ready at some point in April. So I just don't understand the calculus here. If a plane needs a software upgrade following a crash, why wouldn't you ground them and wait for that to happen?

GOELZ: Well, I think that is -- I think - and i don't want to be a defender for Boeing, but I think there were questions about the Lion Air crash that went beyond simply the aircraft. There was maintenance done on the plane the night before that could have been done inappropriately or incorrectly. The pilots on the plane on the day before had a similar problem and solved it. The pilots that were flying in the accident sequence were not able to solve the problem. And so there are complicating factors to that accident.

In this case, I don't think they had enough information in the first 24 hours to make a decision. But as I say, the investigators are on the ground. They have the data recorder and the voice recorder. They are looking at the radar data. I think we are going to have to have the definitive statement sometime in the next 12 hours or the FAA is going to have to act.

SCIUTTO: I mean, this is an enormous amount of pressure being put on Boeing and the FAA. Listen, you make a good point because it's early here and it's very possible that the two crashes had two separate causes and this is what investigators determined. But I wonder, in an abundance of caution, if you have pilots and flight attendants saying they're uncomfortable flying on this plane right now, out on an abundance of caution, should passengers like you and me be putting similar pressure on and say, you know, what, at least until I know for sure because I'm going to put my kids on a plane in several days, I want some certainty here and I'd rather not fly this plane. What's your recommendation to folks at home listening?

GOELZ: Well, I think, Jim, that is a perfectly reasonable response. I am not sure if I would put my children on a 737 Max this morning. So, I mean, I think there is a concern and the people need to speak up. I know that those flying the planes, those who are in the cabin are

deeply concerned and are putting pressure on their air carriers and on the regulators to act. And this is a crisis that's going to play out today and I think I know where it's headed.

HARLOW: And we're hearing more Senators calling for that. Dianne Feinstein, I think Richard Blumenthal and Mitt Romney just Tweeted, out of an abundance caution, the FAA should ground these until we know more.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And, Peter Goelz, I know, as a conservative guy to say he is not sure but putting his kids on the plane, that's something folks are going to be listening to. Peter, we appreciate it, thanks very much. We're going to stay on top of the story.

Brace for another budget clash on Capitol Hill. Imagine that. Democrats have to take on the President's proposal asking for millions and millions of dollars again for his wall.

HARLOW: Also, save your energy, we may need it in a few weeks. Who said that this morning, former Vice President Joe Biden. If that is not a tease for Joe Biden jumping in this race, I don't know what is.

Also, a new report about more investigations into several Trump organization projects, we're on top of that.

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[10:15:00]

[10:12:56] SCIUTTO: This morning, Joe Biden teasing a possible presidential run during a speech just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AUDIENCE: Run, Joe, run. Run, Joe, run. Run, Joe, run.

FMR. SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), D.E.: Thank you, thank you, thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: And he is not trying to quell all of this speculation. He is taking the stage to those chants of run, Joe, run as he and his wife, Doctor Jill Biden, attend an International Firefighters Association event. Let's get right our Arlette Saenz- who is there. And it seems like he gave his biggest tease yet. ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, Poppy and Jim. You know, Joe Biden is not a candidate yet but he sure sounded like one at moments during this speech. In fact, he is still here working the rope line, talking to firefighters at this conference.

You heard him talk a little bit about the message that he could potentially bring to a campaign. He talked a lot about middle class and working class concerns as well as the concerns of the unions. But Biden really offered his biggest tease yet into his 2020 decision making, telling the crowd here of firefighters to stay tuned. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I appreciate the energy you showed when I got up here. Save it a little longer. I may need it in a few weeks.

Be careful what you wish for. Be careful what you wish for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAENZ: So Biden here telling those firefighters stay tuned, to save their energy. The entire speech was very high energy. He was interrupted by applause and standing ovations multiple times. You also had the firefighters bearing this sign, run, Joe, run, making it very clear where they stand.

[10:20:02]

Biden and his wife, Doctor Biden, have been a long time friends of the firefighter community. And they, the General President of the firefighters tells me they are looking to potentially support him if he does get into the race.

Now, friends and allies of Biden that I have spoken to in recent days tell me they are convinced he is going to run, but they are still waiting on that final decision and an announcement is highly unlikely at this point before April. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: Before April.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Arlette, thanks very much. You know, we were talking earlier about the tie through years, Joe Biden to firefighters. It was firefighters who responded to the car crash in '71 that killed his wife and daughter, helped save his two young sons. So he has an emotional tie to them. So when they say, run, Joe, run, maybe he listens.

HARLOW: Yes, that's a good point.

All right, joining us now former Senior Adviser and Spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's presidential bid in 2016, Karen Finney. Good morning, Karen.

KAREN FINNEY, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER AND SPOKESPERSON FOR HILLARY CLINTON: Good morning. HARLOW: So what's your over/under on Biden?

FINNEY: You know, I talked to a friend who is pretty close in the Biden world recently. And this person even reminded me that even in 2016, they went to bed one night thinking that he was in and woke up the next day to him saying he wasn't. So a lot of folks that I'm talking to are saying, you know, wait until it happens. It's not happening until it happens. But it certainly sounds like he is really testing the waters to see where the energy is. And I think as we were talking about, sort of what the messaging would be and how it resonates with people.

And, look, regardless of whether or not he gets in, he is a statesman in the Democratic Party. People love to see him. And he'll be someone who is really important to getting people excited and energized for this election.

SCIUTTO: Is there a danger for him politically in this race to keep delaying here? I mean, to be portrayed as a sort of political hamlet, right, constantly on the walls of the castle, to be or not to be. Is there a risk for him?

FINNEY: A little bit. And I'll tell you there's a couple of things. Number one, there are a number of people staff-wise. Because, as you know, I mean, the joke around town here, right, is that if you are a democratic operative and you can't get hired on a presidential campaign this year, right, you must be really doing something wrong.

So, on the one hand, there are Biden loyalists who are kind of waiting, trying to hold out but who may be entertaining other offers and who maybe can only hold out for so long. So that's our one piece. Then the other piece is donors. I mean, there are a lot of donors who are very enthusiastic about the idea of Vice President Biden running. He obviously would enter the race, you know, and be not only a front runner but he would, I think, move to the front of the line very quickly in terms of fundraising and in terms of energy. But donors are kind of holding back waiting to be, as we would say, kind of released by Biden, so that if he is not running, they want to, you know, start to shop around and date, as they say, other candidates.

HARLOW: Let's talk about Stacey Abrams. You are the perfect person to talk to about this because you were a senior adviser to her during her 2018 gubernatorial bid, Tweeting last night, 2020 is definitely on the table, saying, I've never thought I would be able to run for president before 2028 but life comes at you fast. Yes, she almost did unseat a republican governor.

FINNEY: Yes.

HARLOW: Is this her moment or is this perhaps moving a little too fast?

FINNEY: Well, look, I think a couple of things. Number one, Stacey Abrams is someone who has really caught on fire, not just in Georgia but across the country, both her message, her personal story. She gets people very excited. You know, she is someone, it's interesting -- she was talking about, when she was about 19, kind of did a grid of all the jobs she would need to fight poverty. And president kind of was added later on and, you know, because that's how she is. She is very methodical and planned out.

And, look, I think there are a lot of people who would love to see her throw her hat in the ring. I think at this point, you know, she is entertaining all ideas. Obviously, as you know, she is very seriously considering a bid for the Senate from Georgia in 2020. So I think she is sort of considering all of her options. And I think it's not only her moment now, but I think she is not only the present but also the future of the party.

And even if she doesn't run, the work that she is trying to do in Georgia around Fair Fight Georgia and fighting for voting rights and sort of -- I think those things will continue to be important. We know we will continue to have voting problems in this country. I wish I could say they would be resolved by 2020, but we know that is just not the case.

SCIUTTO: Well, did you have it all planned out from '18?

FINNEY: I mean, you know.

HARLOW: I know I'd be sitting here next to you.

SCIUTTO: I did not, although I am very happy to be sitting here.

[10:25:00]

Karen Finney, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Thanks, Karen. See you soon.

FINNEY: You bet.

SCIUTTO: Next week, Senator Elizabeth Warren, she will take part in the CNN Town Hall with Jake Tapper live from Jackson, Mississippi. It airs on Monday night at 9:00 P.M. Eastern time right here on CNN.

Senate republicans expected to rebuke the President's emergency declaration despite the administration's push for them to back the measure, up next.

John Kasich, a republican governor, urging them don't back down.

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