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Lindsey Graham Releases Statement on Impeachment; Interview with Lindsay Rodman; Twenty-Sixth Horse Dies at Santa Anita Racetrack. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 10:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:30:24] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right, welcome back. So one of the president's most staunch defenders, Senator Lindsey Graham, with a warning to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. His message? "Impeach at your own peril."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Seventy percent of the Democratic base throughout America wants President Trump impeached. She knows that impeachment would be political suicide because there's no reason to impeach the president. So she's trying to keep the party intact.

If she goes down the impeachment road, Republicans take back the House. We keep the Senate. President Trump gets re-elected. But her job is very much at risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: CNN congressional correspondent, my friend Phil Mattingly, joins us now.

Too bad Nancy Pelosi wasn't on that interview. Too bad it wasn't a joint interview between the two of them so she could have responded in real time.

But let's say she had been there. What would she have said back?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A good rule of thumb, Poppy -- and I told my Democratic friends this when Paul Ryan was speaker of the House -- is, "Don't try and walk through what you think the motives or dynamics are of the caucus that you're not in" --

HARLOW: Right.

MATTINGLY: Because you probably don't know them best. But Senator Graham has a point there. And that is something that Speaker Pelosi has actually said outright. Which is, she doesn't want to pursue impeachment, at least until the facts are fully out through their investigations that they have ongoing.

Because she knows for a fact that as the current -- as the Senate currently stands, where Republicans control things, it will never actually been taken to fruition, right? It would fail in the United States Senate. And she doesn't want to go into something that is so politically volatile, so politically divisive with no secure (ph) end game intact.

And what Senator Graham says -- and I think probably is the most on- point -- is the fact that the Democratic caucus right now, as I read it when I talk to Democrats who are actually in these meetings, is not fully on board for an impeachment inquiry. There are certainly pockets -- and a growing pocket over the course of the last couple of weeks, especially.

But the majority of the caucus is still sticking behind Nancy Pelosi and her strategy right now, which is investigate to the power that you have until the facts are laid out, and she is very protective of those Democrats that come from Trump districts that they flipped in 2018. Those Democrats are not clamoring for impeachment. And until they do -- those are the majority-makers -- Speaker Pelosi likely will not either.

HARLOW: I mean, then, what do you make of Freshman Democratic Congresswoman from Michigan, Rashida Tlaib, who said over the weekend on "Meet the Press," essentially -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- that more of the caucus is getting there, including Nancy Pelosi, to pushing toward impeachment. What's that all about?

MATTINGLY: Look, she's not wrong. I think if you look at last week -- and it feels like six months ago at this point in time, but -- earlier on in the week, the decision by the White House not to agree to anything when it comes to subpoenas, the decision by the White House to essentially stonewall every document request, every testimony request, every subpoena that they had, has been immensely frustrating to Democrats.

And because of that, you had a number of Democrats looking around saying, "Look, if we can't get anything, perhaps our case in court would be stronger if we launch an impeachment inquiry."

HARLOW: Right.

MATTINGLY: In the wake of that, though, they won two court cases. The speaker now has evidence and kind of ammunition to say, "Look, right now our strategy might be taking a while, but it is working. And therefore it's not time yet."

There's no question about it. There's 30-some-odd Democrats that are on board with this. That is more than there were two weeks ago, but that is not the central part of the caucus. The caucus has 240-plus members. As long as it stays in the 30s and 40s, that does not a majority make. And therefore the caucus is probably going to stay where they are right now.

HARLOW: OK. Phil Mattingly. Thank you. Good to have you.

So the vice president is heading to Arlington National Cemetery right now. He will be there next hour. 10:33:42] On this Memorial Day, how a tweet from the U.S. Army prompted heartbreaking stories from veterans and their families.

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HARLOW: All right. On this Memorial Day, those are live pictures of Arlington National Cemetery. A clear blue sky above, and the vice president about to visit and honor the fallen servicemembers. He will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Lindsay Rodman is with me this morning. She's a formerly deployed Marine veteran, now the spokeswoman for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Thank you so much for being here this morning.

LINDSAY RODMAN, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND LEGAL STRATEGY, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: I know it's such an important day to you, all who have served, to all of us who are forever indebted to your service. And for you, someone very close to you whom you served with is buried at Arlington.

RODMAN: That's right. Today, I'm thinking about Lieutenant William Donnelly. He and I deployed to Afghanistan together. He was actually my plane commander. I outranked him, but being a plane commander's not a fun job so we gave it to the lieutenant. And he did it with real humor and great spirit.

TEXT: William James Donnelly IV: 1st Lieutenant; U.S. Marine Corps; Afghanistan; Mar 29, 1983; Nov 25, 2010; Purple Heart

RODMAN: It takes a couple days to deploy to Afghanistan. So we had 275 Marines on this plane with him in charge. We got stranded in Bulgaria for a day, we got --

HARLOW: Wow.

RODMAN: -- left in Kyrgyzstan for a couple of days. And I got to know him over that time. And then once we got to Afghanistan, he and his unit went on to Sang-e (ph), which was an area that saw some of the most sustained combat while we were deployed.

And I went to 1st Marine Division's headquarters and I oversaw combat operations from our Combat Operations Center. And on Thanksgiving Day, I heard that he had been killed. So he got me safely to Afghanistan, but we weren't able to get him home.

HARLOW: Just looking at his tombstone there, died in his 20s. Not even --

[10:40:01] RODMAN: Yes. We were so young.

HARLOW: -- thirty years old.

RODMAN: Yes. It was eight years ago now.

HARLOW: Wow. I'm sorry.

Let's talk about -- of course, today is about honoring those lost and those who have served us. But you also want to make the point that today is also about all of us who are not directly tied to service, talking about how we can help those veterans who are alive as well.

"USA Today" reported on the U.S. Army's Twitter account that tweeted to people, essentially, you know, how serving in the military has affected their lives. Let me read you some of the responses because they were just heartbreaking, many of them.

TEXT: U.S. Army: How has serving impacted you?

HARLOW: Quote, "My cousin committed suicide while on duty at the armory after coming home from a tour abroad." Another writes, "I'm a Navy veteran. I was a happy person before I served. Now I'm broke apart. I'm in constant pain every day and I think about killing myself daily."

TEXT: Jeffrey Scott: I am a Navy vet, I was a happy person before I served, now I am broke apart, can't even work a full 30 days due to anxiety and depression. I have Fibromyalgia and nobody understands because I am a guy. I am in constant pain everyday. And I think about killing myself daily........

HARLOW: I mean, the pain is so evident. These are cries for help.

RODMAN: Yes.

HARLOW: What needs to be done?

RODMAN: There's a lot that can be done. We currently see a lot of people with mental health struggles who are reaching out to us at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. There are things that can be done in your local community, and there are things that can be done by the government.

Right now, we are supporting a bill called The Commander John Scott Hannon Mental Health Care -- Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. That would be a slew of different resources that would be provided to veterans in addition to some of the things they're already offered, to help get at some of the veterans that we haven't been able to reach thus far.

HARLOW: Can you just speak to that point, to the one thing that you think is missing most when it comes to addressing mental health issues for veterans?

RODMAN: The biggest thing that we see is that not every veteran is being reached by the V.A. That is due in part to the fact that their outreach efforts could be better, and it's due in part to the fact that some veterans may not be eligible for benefits, or some may choose to go to other resources. Maybe they feel like they don't want a veteran-focused type of care, but that they do need care in some way.

TEXT: Issues Facing Veterans: 20 million veterans in the U.S., fewer than half receive V.A. benefits or services; Veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder: About 30 percent of Vietnam vets, 12 percent of Gulf War vets, 11 percent to 20 percent of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom vets

HARLOW: And you're talking about 20 million veterans in the United States, but half or fewer than half, I believe, actually receive those services. You say some aren't eligible for them.

RODMAN: That's right.

HARLOW: Why?

RODMAN: It may be that they don't know about their eligibility or that -- it may be that their claims have been rejected by the V.A. because the V.A. doesn't believe that whatever injury they have is service-connected. And it may be because they have bad paper. Some people get kicked out of the military and then --

HARLOW: Sure.

RODMAN: -- lose their benefits.

HARLOW: And what about the crisis helpline? How important is it for veterans to know about that and how helpful has it proven to be?

TEXT: Veteran Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, Select Option 1; Or chat with counselors online: veteranscrisisline.net

RODMAN: It's essential. They're -- the Veterans Crisis Line is a resource that we at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America will point people to when they reach out to us in crisis.

It is the immediate place for people to go if they themselves are in crisis or if you know someone who may be in crisis. That should be your first --

HARLOW: That's important.

RODMAN: -- stop.

HARLOW: If -- even if it's not you but you know someone and you don't feel like you have the tools to do something, you should call that hotline.

RODMAN: Absolutely. Or encourage that other person --

HARLOW: OK.

RODMAN: -- to do so immediately. That should be your crisis resource.

That being said, there are people who need help who may not be currently in crisis. And then we need to rally around them and provide additional resources for their health.

HARLOW: Today, 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon, you're a reminder for everyone.

RODMAN: Yes, please. We at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America are asking everyone to go silent at 3:00 p.m. This is a national moment of remembrance. it is a presidential proclamation. And everyone should take just one minute, right at 3:00 p.m., stop what you're doing at your barbecue, at the beach, wherever you are and think for a moment about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our country.

HARLOW: Lindsay Rodman, thank you for your sacrifice -- you, of course, served and were a deployed Marine -- and for what you're doing for everyone now. Good to have you.

RODMAN: Thanks.

HARLOW: Thank you very much.

[10:43:43] And let's go to break on this. This is a live look at Arlington National Cemetery on this Memorial Day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Well, another racehorse has died at California's Santa Anita racetrack. This is the 26th death of a horse there since December at the park, and the third in just nine days. That horse, the latest one, was euthanized Sunday after injuring its front leg.

Santa Anita has temporarily stopped racing in early March to investigate its track. But concerns are building ahead of the Breeders' Cup that's set to be held there later this year. Our colleague Nick Watt joins us this morning.

I mean, that is a stunning number. Do they have any answers for why?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, not yet. Now, this latest horse who died was a nine-year-old gelding, Poppy, as you mentioned, injured Saturday, euthanized Sunday.

Now, horses die at racetracks. That happens every year. But what's happened this year is, we've had a few clusters and that has really sort of gathered attention and put the spotlight on this racetrack here, that this old storied racetrack -- been here since 1934 -- but we don't yet know exactly why these horses are dying.

[10:50:00] Now, there are whispers around here that it might be something to do with the rain. California has had probably the wettest winter in about a decade, You can see the hills are very green. And that can make racing on the track difficult.

Now, the district attorney is looking into it. They've issued 70 subpoenas for documents. They're interviewing more than 60 people. But we do not have those results yet. So so far, we do not know exactly why these horses are dying -- Poppy. HARLOW: I mean, they need answers and they need them quickly. Before

you go, Nick, how is PETA reacting to the latest death?

WATT: Well, PETA is saying that all racing across California should be suspended until we have those answers and until stricter rules are put in place.

TEXT: PETA Animals Are Not Ours: Santa Anita and all California tracks must suspend racing until the ongoing investigation by the district attorney is complete and the new rules have been strengthened.

WATT: Listen, horse racing is trying to deal with this problem. They know that they have a P.R. issue. They have changed rules here regarding medication horses are allowed to take on race day, about how much the jockeys can use the crop. They know that the future of their industry depends on dealing with this problem. So they're trying. But so far, more questions than answers -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Nick Watt. Thank you very much. Reporting for us from California this morning.

Also, another update for you on the measles epidemic. Just in this morning, the CDC has released new alarming numbers that show another jump in measles cases in the U.S. this year.

TEXT: Measles in the U.S. by the numbers: 940 cases in 26 states this year; 60 additional cases reported since last week; 14 cases shy of surpassing 1994 record; Maine and New Mexico new to list of states reporting cases

HARLOW: There are now 940 cases across the country. That's only 14 shy of the record set in 1994. And Maine and New Mexico have now joined the list of states that are reporting these cases of measles. We'll keep you posted on that.

All right. Moving away from the middle. Elections over the weekend in Europe show a shifting tide among some of the world's biggest democracies. Ahead, what does this mean for the globe and the U.S.? Next.

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[10:57:20] HARLOW: All right. So this morning, the results are in from the European Union elections over the weekend. And the results are pretty clear. Populism, nationalism, anti-immigration.

The further your party swings to the left or the right, overwhelmingly, you did great this weekend. Those are images, Sunday out of Berlin. While the old guard middle-of-the-road parties -- centrists, if you will -- got mostly hammered all over the continent. Joining me now is my colleague Nic Robertson.

This was interesting. I mean, it wasn't as much of a swing for the nationalists and populists as some had expected, but it is -- it's really significant. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is. And one

of the significant things about the election is that there has been overall, generally speaking, this was the highest turnout of the electorate in maybe 20, 25 years.

So it does show that people are more engaged in the European Parliament as an issue and as a subject. I think a lot of people are waking up and paying attention to the fact that the Greens have done well, particularly Germany, Ireland, Britain and a few other countries as well. That's been significant.

You know what, the thing about sort of European politics is, you're left with about 40, 44 percent are those two main parties that were the center bloc before. But there are other centrist parties. So the center is still solid.

But what you have now are essentially more disruptors. And disruptors like Matteo Salvini from Italy for example, who really believes that this was an endorsement of his sort of populist views. Or Viktor Orban in Hungary who saw his party score over 50 percent of the votes, and he's been a pretty hardline populist for a long time.

So there certainly are some politicians who will feel that their parties are enabled, and have a dispensation to speak up with an ever- louder voice in the European Parliament. And for a temporary time, one of those will be the U.K. Brexit Party will feel, under --

HARLOW: Right.

ROBERTSON: -- Nigel Farage, will feel they have that mandate. But will it change everything in a big way? Yes and no. Is this a course correction, that we are moving away, we are polarizing politics in Europe? You know, you have to say you can't test that theory until you get to the next election in five years.

HARLOW: Yes. Absolutely. OK. Nic Robertson reporting for us live from London on those elections over the weekend. We appreciate you being here, Nic. Thank you very much.

And thanks for joining me. I'll see you back here with Jim tomorrow morning. "AT THIS HOUR" starts now.

[11:00:07] RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And hello from Washington, D.C.