Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

Nadler Vows "Aggressive" Series of Hearings over Impeachment; 10 Democratic Candidates Take Debate Stage Tonight; Politico: Israel Accused of Planting Spy Devices Near White House. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired September 12, 2019 - 11:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:17]

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me.

What is in a word? Such deep questions we ask on this show. That seems to be still a big question on Capitol Hill right now when it comes to impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee just this morning approved new ground rules for its impeachment inquiry or investigation or both.

Those words, though, are not something the Democratic chairman, at the least, is shying away from now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): This investigation will allow us to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Trump.

Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There's no legal difference between these terms. And I no longer care to argue about nomenclature.

With these new procedures, we will begin next week an aggressive series of hearings, investigating allegations of corruption, obstruction, and abuse of power against the president. The investigation will go well beyond the four corners of the Mueller report.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: But it seems other House leaders do still care about the nomenclature, with the House speaker still refusing to say that the House has launched such an investigation.

Is this a distinction without a difference at this point? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely face that very question any minute now as she's set to be meeting with reporters.

Let's go to Capitol Hill, figure out where things stand. Senior congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is standing by. Manu, first and foremost, what exactly did the House Judiciary

Committee agree to today?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They adopted a resolution along party lines that would set the stage and parameters of how the hearings would be carried out. It was essentially emblematic of what occurred in 1974 when the same House Judiciary Committee voted for procedures to consider the Nixon impeachment proceedings.

In this case, what they will do here is essentially give the authority of the chairman, Jerry Nadler, to call hearings and call them impeachment proceedings, also allow things such as allowing staff attorneys to question witnesses, something typically not done under the typical arrangement for hearings.

But Democrats say this is different. The House Judiciary Committee says the move is a clear escalation to determine whether or not to impeach this president, something that Jerry Nadler wants to decide to do before the end of the year.

But they are not voting to formally open an impeachment hearing. Jerry Nadler says that is not necessary. He said the only thing that's necessary is if they decide to vote to impeach the president, those articles have to go to the committee and then go to the floor. That's when they vote on it.

Now, the Republicans are objecting. They're saying there should be a vote. They say the reason there's not a vote for opening a formal inquiry is because the Democrats are trying to protect their members.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: What's the difference? Ultimately, they may decide about whether or not to impeach this president, whether to recommend articles of impeachment. What's the difference about what they call it?

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): It doesn't go outside the committee. This does not go to the House floor. So they're covering for moderates who don't want to vote for impeachment. The vast majority don't want anything to do with this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: The first thing that we'll see is, next week, when the same committee, the House Judiciary Committee, has a hearing with Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager, who was mentioned in the Mueller report as part of those allegations of obstruction of justice, the president allegedly trying to thwart the Mueller probe. Those questions will come to the former Trump campaign manager.

Also people who are subpoenaed for that hearing include Rick Dearborn, former White House aide, as well as Rob Porter, another former White House aide. It's uncertain whether they will show up and answer questions. But that's just the start of what the Democrats are signaling it will be a broad investigation beyond the Mueller report, looking at potential campaign finance violations, looking at potential emoluments violations of the Constitution.

So they say it doesn't make a difference, Kate, if you call it an impeachment inquiry or not, but the Republicans clearly say it does make a difference -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Again, what is in a word, what is in a name, Manu, we say in Shakespearian terms.

Good to see you. Thanks so much.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she will be taking questions very soon.

Let me bring in CNN political director, David Chalian, for more.

I don't know we're interested to hear what the speaker has to day. But can I just say what it feels like, it feels like a bit of a silly name game that some folks on playing on Capitol Hill when it comes to impeachment inquiry, impeachment investigation, or not or both. But the speaker very clearly thinks that what you call it really does matter. Why is that?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Because the country has shown, thus far, the country at large, not to have an appetite for this.

[11:05:57]

And Nancy Pelosi, as you know -- she has made this crystal clear. She is not of the mind that this is something the Democrats should head towards unless they have already begun to make the case to the American people that is bringing a majority of the American people around that, all of a sudden, Republicans in the Senate start expressing that.

She's looking at the totality of the process from beginning to end, saying, how do we get from here and not just go down a road and crash into a wall. Right?

I mean, so I think the reason we're hearing all of this confusion or sniping over the, you know, the word choice --

BOLDUAN: Whatever you want to call it, yes.

CHALIAN: -- I think the reason we're hearing that is because there's a real divide inside the Democratic caucus about the right political strategy here.

BOLDUAN: To be clear, there have been more House Democrats to come out to call for impeachment.

CHALIAN: Yes.

BOLDUAN: But there's no sign -- tell me if I'm wrong, there's no sign the appetite amongst the American public at large has changed or there's a glimmer of a sign that any Republican Senate is any closer.

CHALIAN: Correct. Those two factors, which clearly weigh on the speakers, mind haven't changed. You're absolutely right. What has changed is a growing number inside her caucus. She does pay attention to that.

But I was looking at, it's not just the quantity. It's the makeup of who is calling for impeachment. Right? So we haven't seen a majority yet of Democrats who won Republican seats that delivered the majority to her.

BOLDUAN: In 2018.

CHALIAN: In 2018.

BOLDUAN: Right.

CHALIAN: So those members, if they, all of a sudden, a big majority decided to call for impeachment, that may catch the speaker's attention in a way it hasn't on this matter.

Her public answer, which I'm sure we're going to hear again today, Kate, we must follow every fact, pursue this investigation, do our factfinding mission. So it's not that she's going to oppose Jerry Nadler for continuing to collect facts here.

BOLDUAN: Right.

CHALIAN: She's not trying to shut that down. She understands, she has to have a release for a lot of Democrats who want to see impeachment pursued.

BOLDUAN: Is that going to be successfully accomplished, though, with this impeachment, whatever that's going to be happening in the Judiciary Committee?

(CROSSTALK)

CHALIAN: Unclear.

BOLDUAN: Let's see what the speaker has to say.

Great to see you, David.

CHALIAN: You, too, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

So it is debate day in America once again, my friends. And for the first time, it will all be on one night and on one stage. Ten of the leading Democratic presidential candidates squaring off this evening, just on the heels of a new CNN poll on the state of the race.

Joe Biden continues to hold a lead among Democratic voters. But going into tonight's debate, you see Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders locked in a tight race for second. So what is going to happen on that stage tonight? What do Democratic

voters want to see?

Joining me right now is former Democratic governor of Virginia, former DNC chair, Terry McAuliffe, and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Angela Rye.

It's great to see you. Thank you for being here.

(CROSSTALK)

Governor, the Biden campaign, looking ahead to tonight, made clear his approach is essentially, you got to have more than a plan. Understandably, he has his eye on Elizabeth Warren.

What do you think or want that to look like tonight?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR; And I hope what comes out of tonight is that the Democratic candidates are actually talking about solutions and they don't spend their time attacking one another.

I have been disappointed in the debates to date. I have found them far too negative. Democrats have gone after each other.

We have to remember, the person we're going after is actually Donald Trump, and that should be what we talk about tonight, Trump and his policies. Democrats ought to put out solutions.

I will find it inexcusable if the Democrats tonight spend their time attacking one another.

Now, we're in the home stretch. Many candidates are teetering. They're having problems raising money. They're having problems paying payroll. They're hoping for a breakout moment. Some will be tempted, oh, I have to go after someone here and have that breakout moment.

But what the Democrats have to do is lay out a comprehensive plan. What are we going to do about health care costs and raising wages for individuals in the country and dealing with infrastructure? That should be the message. That would be a great message for the Democrats tonight.

I know that's where Joe Biden wants the debate to go. I'm sure Senator Harris wants it to go there as well, as well as Senator Warren and Senator Sanders.

They all have got to be talking about how we move forward and not spend their time attacking one another.

BOLDUAN: Angela, in the universe of, there are very have you coincidences in politics, the former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, put out an op-ed this morning, slamming Warren, calling her a hypocrite, attacking her for attacking big dollar donations but accepting the same.

Is that a weak spot for her, do you think? ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it could be,

but, if I could, Kate, just go back to what Governor McAuliffe was addressing. I want to remind the audience that this is not, you know, a coronation or something where there's one candidate standing on the stage with a bunch of their surrogates, with nine of their surrogates. This is a debate.

And while they should not personally attack each other -- I don't think we saw much of that in the last debate in Detroit -- what it should be is an opportunity to differentiate oneself from your neighbor. It's an opportunity for you to finally ensure that this big-tent party is speaking to all of the pillars of that tent. It is an opportunity to demonstrate how one health care plan is different from the next.

[11:10:17]

Senator Harris just rolled out her criminal justice reform plan. On Monday, I interviewed her on my podcast and gave her the opportunity to defend and/or say she stands by her record.

What I think this has to be tonight is an opportunity to say, these are all of the ways in which we are different, these are the ways we speak to the agendas of the LGBTQIA community, to black folks who have held us up and not gotten what they deserve, to the Native American people who support us, to the Latin X folks who support us, to women, especially the women who thought they should have voted for Donald Trump but know better now.

We should be addressing that. I think, to me, that is the biggest point.

Yes, Elizabeth Warren is probably going to get attacked because she's quickly rising. But I also think this is an opportunity for her to demonstrate on the stage with Joe Biden, for the first time in a debate, how she's different from Joe Biden.

BOLDUAN: Governor, you mentioned breakout moments. Kamala Harris had a breakout moment in the first debate. Julian Castro had a breakout moment. Cory Booker has had a breakout moment.

But look at the polls. Forget the national polling. In early states, that has not changed dramatically the state of things. I'm getting kind of to a point of wondering, what can those lower-tier candidates do if breakout moments aren't breaking out of anything?

MCAULIFFE: It's a great point, Kate. I'm sure you're really able to have breakout moments that will transcend this race.

The candidates you mentioned had it before but they fell right back. Senator Harris is now below where she was before she had that moment with Vice President Biden. So I don't think they are going to have that real opportunity to really go out and do that.

I mean, look at the race. You make an important point. We're now six, seven, eight months, it's static at the top. Joe Biden is still the front runner, maybe, you know, it's three, four, five points of when he got into the race. It hasn't changed much.

Senator Warren has moved up, as you know, and she and Senator Bernie are all fighting one another for the second-place slot.

But they've got to come out tonight and show, what am I going to do for Americans. I haven't heard, Kate, I haven't heard infrastructure talked about. I haven't heard work force development. I haven't heard cybersecurity.

We have spent less than 20 minutes on foreign affairs. With all the insanity that Donald Trump has created around the globe, we have real issues.

This is a time, no matter what the questioners ask you, is to lay out your comprehensive plan for -- people want to know, what are you going to do for me. They want to know --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Much to the chagrin of the questioners. Much to the chagrin of the questioners. Terry McAuliffe says you need to get your plan out no matter what the topic may be.

Understandable, Governor.

Angela, you mentioned you had an opportunity to sit down with Kamala Harris, and I wanted to get your sense, did you get a sense that she and her team think, you know, since this is -- I don't know, see this month as kind of the last best chance to break out. Because, as the governor mentions, you know, the money starts drying up and that's really when folks start needing to make real decisions.

RYE: Yes, I didn't get that sense at all. What I can tell you is she's in a position to stand by her record and she wants to talk about it. This is the first opportunity that I've seen where she really dug into this, not in print but in a sit-down interview. I think it was important.

My audience for the podcast is primarily black and primarily young. And those are the folks who have been asking the most questions. It is a beginning of a series of podcasts with all of the candidates.

But I think it was important for her to sit down and focus on that one issue. I don't get the sense they are trying to check out. They are leaning into this race. And I think that's important.

From my standpoint, as a black woman, it's important for me to see someone up there who looks like me. Cory Booker is also up there and had some great moments in the last debate.

I think what's important is not these moments that might go viral at the debate, but how they continue to drill down, connect with voters, get those endorsements in those early states.

Iowa caucuses are five months away. That's still a long time. I don't know if you remember, but Jim Comey gave the race away to Donald Trump just a couple of weeks before the election. Five months is a lot of time.

BOLDUAN: Jump ball for either of you, very quickly.

Andrew Yang, who's on the debate stage, is teasing that there's some surprise he's unveiling on the debate stage. Would either of you like to guess what that would be?

MCAULIFFE: He's going to wear a tie.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: It's blasphemy. Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

MCAULIFFE: I don't know.

RYE: I agree with him. That's what I was going to say.

Great thinking, Governor. I thought it was the tie, too.

MCAULIFFE: There you go, we're together.

BOLDUAN: Good stuff.

Nice tie, Governor.

Thanks, guys.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Appreciate it. We'll see what happens.

(CROSSTALK)

[11:15:05]

BOLDUAN: Coming up, there's a new report that makes a bold accusation against a U.S. ally trying to spy on the White House. Why they suspect Israel was behind it. More details. The reporter who broke that story, coming up.

Plus, President Trump looking to crack down on vaping after a really significant rise in related lung illnesses and deaths. Details on the potential ban ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:20:20]

BOLDUAN: A bold accusation against one of America's closest allies. "Politico" is reporting that the Trump administration has concluded that Israel likely planted listening devices near the White House, according to three former senior officials.

What this would mean is the security service of one of the president's closest friends was trying to spy on him and his closest associates.

What might be equally as surprising and disturbing is that "Politico" is reporting that, upon discovering these devices, the Trump administration did nothing in response.

Israel denies all of this. Here's the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely not. We have a directive. I have a directive. No intelligence collection in the United States. No spying. And it's rigorously enforced without any exceptions.

(CROSSTALK)

NETANYAHU: It's complete fabrication.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Joining me right now is the reporter who broke this story, Daniel Lippman, White House reporter for "Politico."

Good to see you, Daniel.

DANIEL LIPPMAN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: Good to see you, too.

BOLDUAN: Why are government officials confident that this is likely the work of Israel. What are you picking up?

LIPPMAN: These are the type of devices called sting rays, which are cell phone surveillance devices where it can capture the contents of calls, and data streams. And they're pretty expensive. Not many countries have the capability to do them.

And so the FBI Counterintelligence Division, they did an analysis. They looked at these devices very carefully, what kind of parts they had, how old they were, where they had been transmitting data to, and they concluded most likely that it was the Israelis.

And, you know, Mossad, in the movies, they have a fierce reputation. And I talk to other intelligence officials, and they say that Israel -- that's not an inaccurate description of Israel being a very good intelligence service.

BOLDUAN: And there are examples of Israel spying on the United States in the past. So even if this isn't new, if they are confident Israel is behind this, why, then, isn't or wasn't the administration doing anything about it in response? Why aren't there any consequences?

LIPPMAN: One can only speculate about what the Trump administration's motives are in addressing this. But it's not like they caught an actual American who had been turned by the Israelis. And the airways are kind of considered fair game to -- you know, for countries to spy on each other. But the Trump administration has a close relationship with Netanyahu.

They have been -- they have had several favorable policies, like ripping up the Iran deal, adding more sanctions on Iran. You know, Jared Kushner is close to Netanyahu, as well. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

So I think they thought it was not worth it to add complications and damage our relationship, especially since, you know, they're a very important ally in the Middle East.

BOLDUAN: Daniel, what do your sources say -- what do you sources say to the fact -- do they completely dismiss the possibility that this still could be another country, maybe even one trying to pass this operation off as being from the Israelis.

LIPPMAN: There's always concerns about, you know, false flags, you know, the country's trying to pose as other countries in the spy games.

But in the bottom half of my article, I talked to a bunch of former U.S. officials, who would tell -- who told me that Israeli officials would sometimes repeat back to them internal U.S. lines that had never been broadcast publicly. And they would sometimes allude to stuff that they had said in private conversations, almost to tell the American officials, hey, we're listening to you, we're know -- we're keeping an eye on you.

I talked to a guy, Dan Benjamin, a former director of counterterrorism at the State Department, who told me, on the record, that he once met with the head of Mossad, and the first thing that guy told him was, we don't spy on America. And he said, "If you have such a low estimate of my intelligence, I'm going to end the meeting right now."

BOLDUAN: Look, there has long been reporting and discussing around the fact that the president -- if he didn't, for a moment, started using his cell phone once again, an unsecure cell phone, to call friends and whomever since he's been in the White House.

Have you gotten any indication from the White House that they have been able to make his cell more secure, harden the security around it?

LIPPMAN: I have talked to some officials and they do say it's been hardened. You can never tell sometimes with -- you know, Trump has had multiple cell phones in the past, and he might not like the inconvenient nature of when they do harden. It makes it harder for him to use his cell phone.

[11:25:15]

But that's the real concern here. With President Obama, he made sure to keep his Blackberry very secure.

And there have been numerous reports that the Chinese and Russians have been listening on, intercepting some of President Trump's calls, through his cell phone. And he's talking all the time to his friends in New York, and across the business world. And so those people could get targeted as well.

Because every country, especially major countries, are trying to get intelligence on this mercurial president. If they can listen in on some of those conversations, it's gold as intelligence.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating reporting.

Daniel, thank you for bringing it. I appreciate it.

LIPPMAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the CDC is calling it an outbreak. The disturbing rise in deaths and illnesses associated with vaping. Now the Trump administration is weighing a major ban. We have detail on that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:00]