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Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) is Interviewed on Impeachment Probe, Gun Legislation; New 2020 Democratic Polls; Search Warrants in Deadly Fire Accident. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 9, 2019 - 08:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Congress gets back to work today and all eyes will be on the House Judiciary Committee. It is expected to vote this week on a resolution to define impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

Joining us now is a member of that committee, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida.

Congresswoman, it's great to have you here. Thank you. I know this is a busy week for you all.

So explain what's going to happen on Wednesday? So your committee, the House Judiciary Committee, as led by Jerry Nadler, is going to officially vote on, I guess, starting some sort of impeachment inquiry, investigation? I mean what will -- what will look different after this Wednesday?

REP. DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL (D-FL): Good morning, Alisyn.

I think that it's no secret that we are actually in the middle of an impeachment investigation. This is just going to be a procedural vote to allow us to look more deeply into violations of the emoluments clause and obstruction. I think the American people deserve better than an administration that continues to obstruct. It will also actually allow White House counsel to have due process, to be able to answer to some of these requests, but it's truly just a procedural vote.

And what you will see and what the American public is going to see is just an -- it's going to intensify. The impeachment investigation will intensify moving forward.

But what I don't want us to lose focus on is the work that we're doing in the Judiciary Committee, which is coming up this week, which is marking up three additional gun reform bills. Those are the main priorities for the committee this week.

CAMEROTA: And I -- and I will get to guns. I mean that is one of our top priorities in talking about it on the program this week as well. But -- but I just want to ask you about that, the impeachment. Are you

saying that this no longer has anything to do with Russian interference in the 2016 election and that you've moved on to the emoluments clause violations for the president?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: No, no. We continue to investigate Russian interference, obstruction of justice, abuse of power. This is just allowing us to get more documents as they pertain to the illegal hush payments that this president ordered Michael Cohen to pay for the two women that had been alleged in those illegal payments and also just to expand our purview to include the emoluments clause.

But we continue to investigate Russian interference, which is one of the top and most important threats that we see coming in the 2020 election.

CAMEROTA: And is Speaker Nancy Pelosi on board with Chairman Nadler's idea to sort of kick this into a higher gear?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: I think Speaker Pelosi respects Chairman Nadler's work in the committee and I think that she is, for her, the most important thing is for us to have the strongest hand possible against this president and for the American public to have the whole truth and to get all the evidence. So this is just another procedural vote as we continue to intensify our investigation.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's move on to guns.

While you all have been out on your recess, it's been a particularly bloody summer in terms of mass shootings in this country. So what can Congress do to stop this?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Well, what we have already done, Alisyn, is send a bipartisan bill to the Senate back in February, it's been almost 200 days that this bill has been sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's desk. What we are continuing to do is marking up additional gun reform bills, including banning the sale of high- capacity magazines. I think that it is very important for senators, for the Republican senators, to start putting more pressure on the Senate majority leader.

The American public has spoken and they have spoken loudly. More than 90 percent of Americans support a universal background check for people purchasing weapons. I think that it is incredibly negligent by the Senate majority leader and Republican senators that just sit idly by as we continue to see these mass shootings.

So we in the Judiciary Committee continue to focus on that work and I think that the American public is demanding action today from the Senate majority leader.


We're going back to D.C. We are ready to do our work. I am asking our Republican senators to do the same. CAMEROTA: See, it seems like the -- there's this, frankly, deadly

catch 22 where Senator Mitch McConnell is saying, well, I'm not going to vote on something until the president shows leadership and tells us what he wants us to vote on and President Trump is saying, well, I'm not going to say what position I have until I see what Mitch McConnell is going to present to me. And so that's just -- you -- I mean what do Democrats do about that?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: I think that we continue to put pressure on -- on the Senate majority leader. I don't think he has the ability to point fingers.

We are three branches of government, Alisyn. We have the power to do the work that we have been sent by our constituents to do. They're speaking loudly. They are demanding us to take action. We can't continue to wake up every morning to the news of another mass shooting. We have mass shootings. We have people that are buying guns that are committing suicide. We see shootings in my community every week almost.

And -- and this is a personal issue to me. I lost my father to gun violence. I talk about this every time. But it's not just me, it's so many parents in my community that have lost their children to senseless gun violence. And if there's something that we can do, we need to do it.

CAMEROTA: I want to talk to you about what's happening in the Bahamas. This weekend, 130 Bahamians, who have been displaced, obviously their homes have been destroyed, we've seen the mass destruction there following Hurricane Dorian, they got on a ship heading to the U.S. to seek shelter with relatives. And then, after they had already boarded with their children, 130 of them were told to get off the ship because reportedly they didn't have visas to travel to the U.S.

Well, they don't need visas to travel to the U.S. Do you have any idea why that happened and, on a larger point, what aid the U.S. is giving and what's happening in the Bahamas today?

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Look, what we have seen in the Bahamas is complete and utter devastation. And as Floridians, we understand the pain and the suffering that people and families experience after such a strong category five storm. We have asked the administration to ease any visa restrictions and I don't understand what happened on that ferry.

Again, I think that there's probably some incompetence there. We actually -- the south Florida delegation had a meeting on Friday with consulate general -- the Bahamian consulate general, Linda Macke (ph), and we are working closely together in a bipartisan fashion to ensure that we can provide all the assistance that Bahamians need.

Bahamians are a part of our community here. Alisyn, I don't know if you're aware, but they were some of the first settlers that actually helped build this city. And we -- they're not just our neighbors, but we continue to go to the Bahamas, most of us have been there several times, and so I have been very proud to see our community come together immediately after that hurricane passed to assist in relief efforts.

But one of the things that we need to do in Congress is ensure that the administration allows for Bahamians to be able to travel swiftly to south Florida and to be reunited with some of their family members that they have here in the area.

CAMEROTA: All right, Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, thank you very much for all of the information.

MUCARSEL-POWELL: Thank you, Alisyn.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're just days away now from the next Democratic presidential primary debate. So, Joe Biden, is he still the clear national frontrunner? And what do some new state polls tell us? We'll get the forecast from Harry Enten, next.



BERMAN: All right, new this morning, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a comfortable lead in this new national poll among Democratic voters. But, is that the whole story? What do you see when you look at some of these key early voting states?

CAMEROTA: Let's get "The Forecast" with CNN's senior politics writer and analyst Harry Enten.

Harry, great to have you here.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICS WRITER AND ANALYST: Ah, it was a week off, but, you know what, I'm now back with two of my favorites, so this is lovely. And we're going to have a lovely time here together. Isn't that nice, everyone?

So let's just take a look at this. Look, there was an ABC News/"Washington Post" national poll. The same old story, Joe Biden out in front, 29 percent, matches the average over the last month, 29, Sanders, 19 percent, pretty close to his 15 percent, 18 percent for Warren, matches up very nicely. This is a very consistent story in the national polls.

One thing I'll just point out, which I think was a little interesting nugget from this national poll, from the ABC News/"Washington Post," was this, which is, how certain are you of your choice, right? And basically what we found was among Biden supporters, 64 percent said they were definitely backing him versus just 34 percent who said they may change their minds. Versus among all the other candidate's supporters, only 34 percent said that they were definitely backing their choice, which is interesting to many.

BERMAN: It's interesting because what you hear about is, oh, the passion on the campaign trail.


BERMAN: The passion is for other candidates. Elizabeth Warren getting 20,000 people and no one really is that passionate about him. It's the other --

ENTEN: Right, it's actually the other way around. It's not just name recognition. This is real.

But we were talking about the early states, folks, so let's get to it. And, look at this, I've got all four of them on one side. I was so proud of myself.

So this is from CBS News/YouGov, and what you see here is a somewhat different picture. In Iowa, Biden only up by three over Sanders, Warren at 17 percent. New Hampshire it's actually Warren up by a point, oh, really, this is a three-way tie for first. Nevada, Sanders up 29 percent to Biden's 27 percent, Warren at 18 percent. And then South Carolina, where the majority of the electorate is African- American, Biden well up.

CAMEROTA: John and I have been having a bit of a debate about this, this morning. Isn't this more significant than the national poll?


ENTEN: I think that they are both significant. If you look back over time, I would -- I would weight both of them. I mean it would be one thing if Biden was all the way down in the early states, like kind of say Rudy Giuliani was back in 2007 at this point, right, if he was down in Iowa, down in New Hampshire. But the fact is he's up here and here's up here as -- he's up here in South Carolina, which is so important because it does suggest his African-American base is holding.

BERMAN: He's basically agreeing with me but he's being polite. He is saying that.

ENTEN: No, no. I like both of them. I like both of them. Come on.

CAMEROTA: I think that he's really threading the needle.

BERMAN: All right, Iowa is everything. I'm in the Iowa is everything camp.

ENTEN: Iowa is everything. You know, this is something I think is so interesting because we only get a few of these early state polls and I just want to point out some differences between the CBS News/ YouGov poll that was done just recently and a Monmouth poll done at the beginning of last month.

And, look, Biden's at the same point, right, 29 percent, 28 percent. Warren's at the same point, 17 percent, 19 percent. Look at this, though, Sanders is significantly higher in the CBS News/ YouGov poll than he was at Monmouth, 9 percent versus 26 percent. And so I think one of the things we have to ask ourselves is, is there something going on with the sampling stuff going on, because, in all honesty, before these polls came out, I was like, oh, I think Elizabeth Warren will be rising, not Bernie Sanders. But, you know what, these are two different looks. So we're not really sure what's exactly going on there.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, it's possible Bernie Sanders did something in Iowa between that time or no?

ENTEN: It's plausible. But the fact is, we aren't seeing him rise nationally. So I'm a little suspect. I would almost basically sort of cut the difference here, but it does give you a different look. And I think this is important when we're looking at polls that there are margins of errors and beyond that there are sampling issues. So this is something that was interesting to me.

BERMAN: There is movement in New Hampshire, it does seem, towards Elizabeth Warren, yes?

ENTEN: Yes. So -- so take a look here. So this is -- take a look, the CBS News/ YouGov poll versus our CNN/UNH poll that was done in the beginning of July. And what we see here is, look, this is basically a three-way tie for first place, right, and she is up from the CNN/UNH poll, 19 percent versus 27 percent. Sanders is also up a little bit. But this is so interesting. This is really just a three-way tie. And that's the way I would sort of describe it, it's a top three tier.



ENTEN: And this, to me, is another one. We never talk about Nevada. You know, my friend John Roston (ph), who's a writer out there, who is also a Buffalo Bills fan, although he went to the University of Michigan, I don't care -- don't care too much for that, but the point is here, look, CBS/YouGov poll, we actually have Sanders up here, 29 percent, but that's way up from this Monmouth poll June 6th to 11th. Now, could things have shifted during that point? Maybe. But, again, I just point out that when you only have a limited number of polls that are going on, I would tend to really be suspect of moving say (ph) priors too much and averaging tends to be the right way to go.

BERMAN: There is a new addition to not this debate this week, but the next Democratic debate, yes?

ENTEN: Yes. We got number 11, Tom Steyer, who, in a CBS News/YouGov Nevada poll, it was his fourth qualifying poll at 2 percent. He had already hit the fundraising benchmark. So the field, my friends, on the debate stage is going to be significantly wider come October and I believe that will probably mean two debates. We'll see if they can squeeze 11 on stage.

CAMEROTA: Which is really interesting because if they do two debates, then the field is much smaller than we will have seen.

ENTEN: That's correct. You'll have five -- you'll have a five and a six, which I think is --

BERMAN: Yes, but you may not get two of the candidates you want on the stage at the same time.


ENTEN: No, maybe not a Warren/Biden (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: All right, there was another team besides the Patriots that won yesterday.

ENTEN (singing): My Buffalo Bills. We're 1-0. And I celebrate it by drinking a Diet Dr. Brown's black cherry

BERMAN: Your Uncle Neil has never called and asked you for advice, correct clearly?


ENTEN: No, that is true, he has never -- he does his singing. I do my dancing.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, is -- does Neil Sedaka approve of the jingle that you just did for Dr. Brown?

ENTEN: You know what, I think he'd just approve of me being happy, because that's what you always want your nephew to be.

BERMAN: He's probably right.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

Harry, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Great to see you.

All right, now to this, the Coast Guard is widening the investigation into this Labor Day boat fire that killed 34 people off the California coast. We have details of the latest in the investigation, next.



CAMEROTA: Authorities have served the owner of the diving boat involved in last week's deadly fire that killed 34 people with search warrants.

CNN's Dan Simon is live in San Francisco with the latest on the investigation.

What's happening, Dan?


This represents the newest phases in terms of the investigation. Ultimately to determine what caused that ship to catch fire and whether anybody should be held responsible.

Now it's important to remember that the boat, the "Conception," passed all of its recent Coast Guard inspections, but questions have arisen in terms of some of the safety aspects of the boat, including the fire suppression system, as well as the escape hatch, was it visible, was it easy to maneuver. There were also questions about whether or not there was a roving watchman on duty that night, which is required by the Coast Guard.

Now, Alisyn, in terms of the number of people who died, 34, it's believed that all of them died as a result of smoke inhalation and not burns. And because they're so confident of that, it appears that no autopsies will be performed.

And, finally, in terms of the overall salvage operation, it was suspended because of weather. It's believed that the operations will resume probably sometime on Tuesday.

But, again, these search warrants carried out at the parent company, Truth Aquatics. A lot of different things were taken, including boxes. We don't know exactly what evidence they're looking for, but, obviously, opens up a new phase in this investigation.

John, we'll send it back to you.

BERMAN: All right, Dan, thanks very much for that. We're going to stay on this story.

All right, "The Good Stuff" is next.



BERMAN: All right, it is time now for "The Good Stuff."

The University of Tennessee gave a fourth grader the last laugh. The boy wanted to represent the university at his school's college colors day, so this is what he did, he drew a logo on a piece of paper and he pinned it to an orange shirt. That's initiative right there.

CAMEROTA: That's creativity right there.

BERMAN: All right, that's --


BERMAN: Then it turned for the worse.


BERMAN: Right. He was in tears by lunchtime after some of the kids at school made fun of his sign. So the teacher posted the boy's story online hoping someone would help with an official shirt. The post went viral and the university sent a care package full of all this University of Tennessee swag. The university also turned the boy's design into an official t-shirt, which I love. Some of the money from shirt sales will be donated to an anti-bullying charity.

CAMEROTA: That is a fantastic moral to the story. But, I mean, in the olden days, we made t-shirts. We made homemade t-shirts like that. That was just how we did it. Now I guess it's not cool enough.

BERMAN: I think it looked great. I think it looked great. And it's great for the university to chip in and get him the other stuff too.

CAMEROTA: Are you, right now, just trying to get University of Texas to send you --

BERMAN: It's University of Tennessee.

CAMEROTA: OK, University of Tennessee to send you a t-shirt?

BERMAN: Yes, obviously.

CAMEROTA: Seems like it.



All right.

Thanks so much for watching NEW DAY.

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