Return to Transcripts main page
Massive Drone Attack On Saudi Arabia's Oil Facilities; Firefighters Responded To The Blaze At The Adath, Israel Synagogue Duluth Early Monday Morning; NFL Star Antonio Brown Makes His Debut With The New Team, New England Patriots, Despite Rape Allegations; 2020 Candidate Julian Castro Loses A Key Supporter After His Attack On Joe Biden In Last Week's Democratic Debate; Three Democratic Presidential Candidates Are Calling For The Impeachment Of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired September 15, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:27] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
All right. We begin with concerns over rising oil prices and a dramatic escalation in the Middle East following a massive drone attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities. U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is now accusing Iran of carrying out the large-scale operation. The fires have cut off half of Saudi Arabia's oil supply and has halted five percent of oil production worldwide.
Without providing any evidence to support his claim, Pompeo tweeted this, saying, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen. Iran has responded to that accusation from Pompeo, calling it baseless and dangerous.
Meantime, NASA has released satellite images capturing the sheer magnitude of the attack. And in these images you can see the smoke from the fires at the Saudi oil facilities all the way from space.
Yemen's Houthi rebels originally claimed responsibility for the attacks, signaling a major technological feet for the group. But now sources of CNN tell us the attacks likely came from Iraq, further raising questions about where these drone attacks came from and who was responsible for them.
Our CNN correspondents are all over the world covering, this including from Tehran. And we are the only network in the region there. That's where our Nick Peyton Walsh is.
Nick, how is Iran reacting to secretary of state Mike Pompeo's claim that Tehran that is behind this attack?
NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That foreign minister Javad Zarif saying that this is a switch from maximum pressure. That's been the phrase people use to describe the Trump administration's policy towards Iran too. In Mohammad Javad Zarif's words, maximum deceit.
Now, Fred, this is (INAUDIBLE) and this incredibly complicate the story and take stock of how serious this is. We have seen many attempts, people trying to nip at the edges to each other there in this regional standoff between U.S.' main ally, Saudi Arabia and its main enemy, Iran.
But this is something totally new. And you can see that in those massive pictures that you saw. The idea that people would launch is the Houthis, the rebels in Yemen, who have claimed responsibility for this, ten drones. They traveled pretty much across all of Saudi Arabia and then and hit all these priced heavily defended oil refineries causing that much damage, flying through tens of billions of dollars to their defenses. That's got a lot of people asking what capability they often racked at Houthi rebels in Yemen who suddenly got hold off to enable in doing that.
That might be the reason behind secretary of state Mike Pompeo's tweets. He offered no evidence. But in two tweets he suddenly changed this from being yet another example of a long-running nasty war between America's ally Saudi Arabia and its friends in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels there into something totally new today.
And many people are here in Tehran thinking that after President Trump's recent comments and after his desire not to launch strikes after downing of the U.S. drones a number of weeks ago, maybe that U.S. and Iran were edging back toward diplomacy. They woke up suddenly to a whole different thought, that maybe we are headed to something much more scary and much nasty.
As I say, no evidence presented as yet to back America's claim that this are made from Iran. And we have also heard from Saudi officials a suggestion perhaps that this may have come from somewhere that was not Yemen.
It's all very unclear at this particular point. And there is not a lot of evidence flying around. But the stakes are quite staggering. Because Saudi Arabia is armed to the teeth. It's run by a young crown prince who is very close to this particular Trump White House. And Iran has a lot of hardliners who are bristling to see sanction pressure upon Iran. It has a lot of moderated who are desperate I think to get a diplomatic track that have so much success with the Obama White House in starting that nuclear deal to get that back alive again. But here we are today with these enormous complaints and threats being thrown around. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: And Nick, you said Saudi Arabia, you know, believes that this attack may be coming from elsewhere. Such as where?
WALSH: This is what we don't really know at this point. And they may have sophisticated air defenses and radars. Many say that if it was small, sort of handmade, a makeshift drones, a new type of technology perhaps being given to the Houthi rebels by somebody, well, they may have managed to evade those radars. But a lot is being said here, particularly by U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo, that hasn't necessarily been backed up by hard evidence and proof.
Remember, everyone is nervous about being here before. It is how many felt the U.S. stumbles with the wrong idea that Hassam Hussein have weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Everyone is very cautious I think to see where the evidence lies. U.S. senate is critical of the U.S. policy in Yemen of saying this is how dumb wars of choice begin, by simplifying the issues here. Yes, Iran does back the Houthis, the rebels in Yemen. But it doesn't mean that everything they do Iran also does. It's very complicated but that means the solutions to it and the evidence behind it has to there as well, Fredricka.
[14:05:32] WHITFIELD: And the solution very complicated.
All right. Thank you so much, Nick Payton Walsh. Appreciate that. We'll check back in with you.
All right. Meantime, the Trump administration says the President has many options on the table following this attack.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House.
So Jeremy, has the administration offered any, you know, information supporting Pompeo's accusation that Iran is responsible here?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. As of yet, the administration has not provided any evidence to back up Pompeo's claim. We do, of course, that Iran backs a number of different militant groups in the region, including the Houthi rebels in Yemen. And that they have been arming and supplying them. But so far not in the direction of blaming Iran directly from this administration. We did hear, however, from the President's counselor, Kellyanne Conway, who was talking about what impact this latest development might have on the possibility of diplomacy between the U.S. President and the Iranian President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: The President will always consider his options. And we have never committed to that meeting at the United Nations general assembly. The President just said he's looking at it. And so I will allow the President to announce a meeting or a non-meeting. But when you attack Saudi Arabia, ad as the secretary of state has noted, they attacked dozens and dozens times you attack a civilian areas a critical infrastructure to indeed the global economy, global energy stability, you are not helping your case much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DIAMOND: And now, as we wait for the President to determine whether or not these attacks merit derailing the possibility of negotiations between the United States and Iran, the President uncharacteristically quiet on twitter on this matter of Iran. He has been tweeting about other things but we have yet to hear from him on this subject -- Fred. WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond, we will check back with you.
Thank you so much.
All right. I want to bring in CNN international correspondent Ben Wedeman live for us in Beirut and CNN global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier in Washington. She is also a contributor at "the Daily Beast." Good to see both of you.
So Ben, you first. Since Saudi Arabia says it hasn't quite determined who is responsible here, how might they learn of that, because as Nick Payton Walsh just said, they are armed to the teeth. They would have the apparatus in which to determine possibly where this came from. And once they learn that, what would be the kind of retaliation coming from Saudi Arabia?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for one thing, as rightly Nick pointed out, there is no evidence being provided, backing up this claim by secretary Pompeo that Iran was behind it. Now, it's a fair assumption that the United States for one has the facilities in the gulf area that they would have been able to spot or somehow determine where these drones or missiles came from. Now, if they came from Yemen, that's an awful long way to get to these critical oil facilities. There's talk perhaps they come from Iran.
Now what could the Saudis do in response? It's difficult to tell. If they are from Yemen, they can just carry on with this war that's been going on since March 2015 in which they have used U.S., British and other weapons from western Europe to kill more than 70,000 people there.
But if it's from Iran, that's a whole different magnitude of danger because if you think about it, if it's the Houthis firing this sort of missile or drone at Saudi Arabia, what do the Iranians have that they have not deployed yet? And it's important to keep in mind that the Iranian military, unlike, for instance, the military under Saddam Hussain, the Iranians have a very well-developed military infrastructure. And they have trained friends here in Lebanon with Hezbollah. You have the Houthis in Yemen. So they have a lot more they can get fire back at the Saudis if the Saudis decide to actually act. But the assumption is that the Saudis, even though they spent hundreds of billions of dollars on their military, they probably can't do anything without the direct involvement of the United States -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: OK. And then, Kim, that the U.S. would, by way of the secretary of state, accuse Iran of being behind this, does that mean that there is already evidence retrieved by the United States to substantiate that kind of claim, to tweet that out publicly, and has enough time elapsed so that U.S. intelligence perhaps can look at these satellite images, something in which to determine the origins of this strike?
[14:10:17] KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it does sound like it's a U.S. official prelude to some sort an action. Remember that President Trump called off a military strike on Iran last spring, instead conducted a number of cyberattacks. If the U.S. is preparing or considering for something more, something that would cause casualties in Iran, they would probably have to share some of this intelligence.
So what would be going on right now is scrubbing satellite photos, scrubbing drone photos and determining what could be shared with allies and then onward with the wider international community to explain this action. Because this is a legitimate Houthi military target in the eyes of the Houthis. The question is though, they haven't --.
WHITFIELD: Because there has been some back and forth, you know, over some time?
DOZIER: The Houthis consider the oil fills fueling the Saudi was effort and therefore they termed it a non-civilian military target. But using some sort of stealth drone or some sort of sophisticated technology to hit them is something they haven't been able to do at the scale in the past. That's what points to the Iranian assistance. And if the U.S. wants to make that case, they are going to have to show more.
WHITFIELD: And then, Kim, what about, you know, the oil markets around the world and how this will ultimately impact, really, the markets everywhere?
DOZIER: Well, it's going to be a rough start to the week, especially since Aramco was considering launching an IPO, an Initial Public Offering, and selling part of the company. But look ahead to the U.N. general assembly. President Trump had considered talking to President Rouhani as early as 2017. There was a certain amount of momentum towards that. Perhaps the fact that Iran now feels in the ascendant after this, it might make it possible.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now.
Thank you so much, Kimberly Dozier. Ben Wedeman, appreciate it.
All right. Still ahead stateside now, a synagogue razed to the ground is not a hate crime, according to authorities. So what happens? CNN is there live as authorities try to pin down a motive after arresting a suspect.
[14:16:21] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.
Not a bias or hate crime. That's what officials are saying about a fire that destroyed a 119-year-old synagogue in Minnesota. Firefighters responded to the blaze at the Adath, Israel synagogue Duluth early Monday morning. The fire left the synagogue in ruins. But firefighters were able to save several religious relics from the blaze. The suspect, Matthew James Amiot, was arrested on Friday and booked on a charged first degree arson.
CNN's Omar Jimenez is in Duluth, Minnesota.
So Omar, how did investigators decide they had enough evidence to rule out a hate crime?
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That was something we really pressed the police chief here on, Fred, earlier today. But he was insistent saying that based on the evidence they have received at this point and the information they have gathered, they feel confident this was not a hate-based crime, at least one that was biased towards that direction.
What we do know is they say they found no accelerant at the scene of this. They know it started on the exterior of the building as well. As for the suspect, 36-year-old Matthew James Amiot, he was actually named as a person of interest 24 hours after this investigation began Monday afternoon, but then he wasn't arrested on those charges for first degree arson. And we asked if he was a resident here in Duluth, the police chief said yes. But also he did not currently have a permanent residence at the time that this fire broke out. So we are going to press for more information on that front.
Outside the investigation, as you can imagine, there is a lot of sadness in the air for this Adath Israel synagogue. It had been in this community for over a century at this point. And here's how the mayor describes what the week has been like for this community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR EMILY LARSON, DULUTH, MINNESOTA: This has been a very, very difficult week for this community. We feel the pain and loss and substantial impact for Adath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: And at this point we also know in Amiot had no connection to the Adath Israel synagogue. He is expected to be in court tomorrow here in Duluth. And we are also expecting a criminal complaint later this week. But hopefully, we will have some more information -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.
All right. Still head, NFL star Antonio Brown makes his debut with the new team, New England Patriots, despite rape allegations. His alleged victim speaks to the NFL this week. So where does the team stand on this? We discuss, next.
[14:22:54] WHITFIELD: All right. Right now NFL player Antonio Brown is making his debut as a New England Patriot. Just days after facing rape and sexual assault allegations, the wide receiver is playing in his first game in the 2019 season and already has several catches and a touchdown for the Patriots.
But Brown's future apparently is up in the air. He has denied the allegations. But this week, Brittany Taylor, the former trainer accusing him in a civil lawsuit will meet with NFL officials to give her side of the story. And that could happen any day now.
With me right now is Christine Brennan, sports columnist for "USA Today" and a CNN sports analyst. Christine, good to see you.
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: You, too, Fred.
WHITFIELD: I guess a lot is riding on today's game. A lot of attention now on Antonio Brown because there was so much discussion about once this accusation came out, would the team, you know, have him playing this weekend, and here we are today. So what does this say about the New England Patriots who say they want to hear the whole story first before penalizing him or even the NFL? How does that set the stage for Miss Brittany tomorrow?
BRENNAN: Fredricka, this is a tough day for the national football league, even though many are celebrating. The NFL has talked for the last five years, since the Ray Rice video, the elevator punch that so many people remember, about how important women are to the National Football League. And the very easy, simple answer was to get Antonio Brown off the field of play through the commissioners' exempt list, which means you park them with paid leave, get out of the way. And they didn't do that. And now they have this second weekend of the NFL overshadowed by Antonio Brown. First three passes Tom Brady threw, he threw to Antonio Brown. The patriots have doubled down. They say, he's our guy and we are using him in our game. So if anyone doubts that this weekend about Antonio Brown, there should be no doubt.
And what it says about listening to women, it is really an interesting decision by the National Football League in 2019 to make this call but will know a lot more this week because, of course, apparently Brittany Taylor said she is going to talk tomorrow to the National Football League. That's been reported. That's a very big deal because she is willing to come forward. She has attached her name to a lawsuit. We are also hearing negotiations that broke down months ago. Why in the world did the NFL and New England Patriots not know about that until last Tuesday night?
[14:25:20] WHITFIELD: So whose call is it for Antonio Brown not to play? Is this a Patriots decision, or is this an NFL decision to allow him to play while this investigation -- NFL now saying it's investigating as a result of this civil suit by Miss Brittany Taylor?
BRENNAN: It's in NFL, 100 percent on the national football league because Roger Goodell has the commissioners exempt list. And that as I said it would have been an easy answer here. But they didn't do that. I know there are people who say, wait a minute, he is innocent until proven guilty. Of course. Of course he is. But that's not the case. If you or I had a lawsuit against us like this from someone who knew us, I think our bosses at CNN and "USA Today" would say, you know, take the week off, paid leave. Most organizations would do that in this case. The NFL did not do that. It was notable and it is part of our cultural history. Just a fact. But we will see moving forward how this plays out. Again, I think you mentioned the investigation. After Ray Rice --
WHITFIELD: And does that investigation, you know, what are the appearances of that investigation?
BRENNAN: Well, the NFL was told by none other than Robert Mueller that it needed to investigate itself after the Ray Rice saga. That controversy, obviously, everybody remembers that five years ago and the punch of his ex, at that point his ex- ex-fiancee, Janelle Palmer.
And so, Robert Mueller was commissioned by Roger Goodell to do an investigation. And his number one thing that he came back with, Fred, was to tell the NFL you have to investigate yourself which means that that NFL ramped up. They hired people. The NFL hired sex crimes experts. They did all kinds of things. They have a way to do this. Now we'll see it in play. We will see how it works.
Whatever happens, whatever the decision is, people will not be happy. But I think it's set against the framework of Me Too and our culture now, and 45 percent of the fan base of the NFL is women and girls. That cannot be ignored in this reception.
WHITFIELD: It would be interesting to see what kind of reception there is when he walks into the stadium today for game time and if that in any way is influential. But again, I know the NFL is scheduled to speak with Brittany Taylor as early as tomorrow, and we will see what comes of that.
Christine Brennan, thanks so much.
BRENNAN: Fred, thank you very much.
WHITFIELD: All right. Straight ahead, did Julian Castro's fight with Joe Biden cost him an endorsement? Why a city councilmember from Castro's own state is now switching sides.
[14:31:51] WHITFIELD: 2020 candidate Julian Castro loses a key supporter after his attack on Joe Biden in last week's Democratic debate. A Texas congressman pulling his endorsement just days after this exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My plan would do that, your plan would not.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They do not have to buy in. They do not have to buy in.
CASTRO: You just said that -- you just said that two minutes ago. You just said two minutes ago they would have to buy in.
BIDEN: Only not if they can't afford if they qualify for Medicaid, they're automatically in.
CASTRO: Are you forgetting already what you said just two minutes ago? I can't believe that you said two minutes ago that they had to buy in, and now you're saying they don't have to buy in. You are forgetting that.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Castro says his comments were not veiled attacks on the frontrunner's age. Regardless, Democratic congressman Vincente Gonzalez is now backing Biden. Gonzalez explained his decision this morning to Jake Tapper.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE UNION: Do you stand by your decision to bail on Castro?
REP. VICENTE GONZALEZ (D), TEXAS: Well, I think at this point int time, we need to line up the Democrats to defeat Trump in November 2020. And that's why I believe I'm moving my support to vice president Joe Biden. I think he is certainly showed the statesmanship throughout every single debate. He has had a steady ship. He had eight years experience in the White House already. He has a storied carry in the Senate. He has the story that resonates with the American people. And I clearly believe he is the candidate that can get us past the finish line. And clearly secretary Castro is a qualified candidates. But I think it's time to narrow the field and unite and get ready to defeat Trump in 2020.
This is not the time to create fracture. We have many, many candidates, all of them very qualified and very good, but we need to come to terms with the reality if you are polling in the low single digits and you are not raising resources, I mean, it's clearly a recipe for disaster. And I think we need to be cognizant of that as a Democratic Party wanting to de defeat Trump. This is going to be a historical election. This is not a time for infighting. And I think it's the right move forward for all the Democrats in the country and the American people in general.
TAPPER: You say this is not a time for infighting, but I'm also hearing that you are switching from the Castro camp and now endorsing vice president Biden is not because of that exchange at the debate, even though a lot of Biden people criticized secretary Castro very strongly, saying he was disrespectful. That's not the reason, though?
GONZALEZ: No, not at all. You know, everybody has their own style on the debate stage. I think the delivery, as I said, could have been different. But for the most part, I think they are all good, qualified Democrats that care for this country that need to come together and figure out who our guy is that can take us across the finish line. And at this point, after three debates and, you know, a year of campaigning, almost, I think it's pretty clear that the person who has shown the statesmanship that can take us past the finish line is the steady ship of Joe Biden.
[14:35:09] WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now to discuss, Washington bureau chief for the "Chicago Sun Times," Lynn Sweet, and senior writer for "Rolling Stone," Jamil Smith. Good to see you both.
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Hi, Fred. WHITFIELD: All right. Jamil, you first. You know, he says that
Castro's attack is not what move the needle for him but essentially saying he believes Biden is the one who is the most winningest. Do you believe that?
JAMIL SMITH, SENIOR WRITER, ROLLING STONE: I have to ask, what do Democrats think a primary is? Do they think that, you know, we are in a period where we are just trying to understand how we unify or did they think this is actually a vetting process? I'm just trying to understand what they think candidates are actually trying to do. Are they trying to distinguish themselves or are they trying to have a Kumbaya session?
WHITFIELD: Meaning, you are saying --. All right, you are saying that no one should expect that these competitors are going to be anything but competitive.
SMITH: Right, I'm trying to understand exactly what Democrats think that this is. These candidates are all trying to distinguish themselves from one another, ostensibly. And you would think you have 20 candidates running, about, and they are all trying to compete with one another, trying to distinguish themselves by plans, by personality, by character. And you have a congressman, and congressman Gonzalez is free to endorse whomever he likes, but the idea that well before anyone has ever cast a vote and well before anyone is going to cast a vote, the idea that we have to unify now in September well before the Iowa caucuses seems a little bit odd to me.
WHITFIELD: Or is he also saying that perhaps what has been revealed by each and every candidate is, you know, certain things are either a turn turn-on or turn-off and solidifies your vote for someone and that you can change your mind? Is he possibly saying that, too, Jamil?
SMITH: More possibly. Listen, I think that, you know, he is, you know -- I can say why he may feel like Julian Castro is no longer a viable candidate. However, the idea that Joe Biden has proven that he is the candidate that is going to carry the Democrats across the finish line, I think, is a curious judgment at best. I don't think Joe Biden has proven that by any stretch. I think Joe Biden has to prove that both in terms of his capability as a candidate and also in terms of the plans he has put forward. I think that certainly other candidates have put forward better plans, and other candidates have shown more capability as candidates. So I think that more time has yet to be, you know, for other candidates to prove that they are going to be, you know, possibly better candidates than, you know, Joe Biden. I don't know. I think other candidates have a better shot, potentially.
WHITFIELD: In fact, you were very critical of Joe Biden in your recent writing with "Rolling Stone" where, you know, you say it really should not be presumed that Joe Biden is the best one to take on a Donald Trump. I mean, you say Democrats, particularly white liberals, have you know, scathed on that for a generation. You are really talking about the issue of racism.
Before I get to this portion here, there is too much institutional cruelty for the next President to undo should a Democrat defeat Trump next fall. And you say why? This is your headline. Why is it time for Joe to go? Democrats need an anti-racist nominee against a racist like Donald Trump. The third debate confirmed that the former vice president is not up to the task. What was it particularly during that debate performance that solidified that point of view for you?
SMITH: Well, it wasn't merely the answer that he gave to the question posed about the legacy of slavery, which he answered with a very strange response about record players and debunked social science about children needing to hear millions more words.
Really, frankly, it was this kind of condescending approach to race and to, you know, poor folks who were disproportionately black and Hispanic. This old sort of racial thinking that we just cannot afford to have, in a Democratic nominee going up against a white nationalist President, who has infused its policies with that kind of thinking.
I think Democrats really cannot afford to have someone going up against that President, that incumbent, who is not only not equipped to debate and to take on that person in a campaign, but not equipped also to undo that kind of policy once they become President.
[14:40:03] WHITFIELD: OK. Hi, Lynn. Thank you so much for hanging out and waiting and listening and being so patient.
So let me ask you, too, Lynn, you know, particularly after that debate and particularly after, you know, the fallout, whether it be from Julian Castro and you know, his tone, you know, with the former vice or even some other criticism about Joe Biden, is Joe Biden in trouble, even though he remains the frontrunner? Is he feeling that, you know, the number two and number three, you know, Bernie Sanders, you know, Elizabeth Warren, are kind of closing in on him, closing that gap?
SWEET: If I may, let me break down your questions into a few parts. Others in the race would love to be in Joe Biden's position even if his hold on the number one isn't firm. He is so far ahead of everybody, I think the reality is that's for the moment the position he is going to hold. Is he in a position to hold it forever? Not necessarily. Is there a long way to go, yes. Did Castro's remarks hurt Biden more than he hurt himself? No. Castro hurt himself.
Do you know the biggest reason why I could say that is that the audience gasped when he said it. So Castro could say what he wants, that he didn't mean it, what matters in life and in a campaign is how somebody takes your words. When the audience gasped over what he said, that means whatever he meant to do, he didn't do it. So the hurt there was really on him, and I think it will be lasting.
And then the third thing that we are talking about, or maybe the fourth, I have lost track, is, is it time to narrow the race? The point is, if Democrats want to get rid of Donald Trump, they need to do things to not make it harder. And if Trump wins another term, you could time-stamp it, I think, as a dramatic turning point which is when another Texan, Beto O'Rourke, gave all the ammunition Republicans ever need when it comes to guns and said he is for confiscating assault rifles. That is something that is way beyond what other Democrats are saying, doesn't quite factor in the second amendment right that most every Democratic elected official understands and understands that confiscation is not what's on the table for most. And when he said that's what wanted to do, it wasn't helpful. He's entitled to his opinion, but if that is going to make it harder for Democrats to win the White House, then maybe he ought to just go up and give speeches on the gun issue and what he thinks should be done and not use the presidential race as just a platform for some -- for an agenda.
WHITFIELD: Got it. All right. Lynn Sweet, Jamil Smith, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
SWEET: And thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: We are going to be right back.
[14:47:08] WHITFIELD: Three Democratic presidential candidates are calling for the impeachment of U.S. Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh. Their push follows an article in the "New York Times" on a new book detailing new sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh from his days as a Yale college student.
Today Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro and Kamala Harris all sending out tweets, calling for Kavanaugh to be impeached. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is also running for president, and who had a fiery confrontation with Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing cut short of calling for impeachment but suggested the allegations do need to be investigated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I strongly impose him based on his views on executive power which will continue to hunt our country as well as how he behaved, including the allegations that we are hearing more about today.
My concern here was the process was a sham. I don't think you can look at impeachment hearings without getting the documents. The House would have to get the documents. And the attorney general is shielding documents. I think the whole thing was a sham and that those documents need to be turned over, as well as the documents that the White House hid from his time in the White House counsel's office. All of that needs to come forward to even look at a proceeding like that. And to do any of this, George, you need a new President. You need a new attorney general that respects the law. And that is just not happening with this guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, let's talk about this.
With me now is Bill McCollum. He is a former Republican congressman from Florida and served on the House judiciary committee as a manager during the impeachment of bill Clinton. Congressman, good to see you.
FORMER REP. BILL MCCOLLUM (R), FLORIDA: Good to be with you.
WHITFIELD: So is that the crocks of it, what Amy Klobuchar said, is that, you know, you need these documents that the attorney general has and these documents need to be handed over to really begin a viable impeachment process of this Supreme Court justice?
MCCOLLUM: Well, I don't know the substance of the documents she is referring to, but I would say that in any case of impeachment, you really need to have a thorough investigation first.
We had the good fortune of having, at the time of the Clinton impeachment, the independent counsel's very detailed investigation, not only that but his recommendation of impeachment based on quite a number of a very explicit crimes the President had committed. And then we had a vote of the house on the floor to send it to an investigation in the Judiciary Committee. None of which exist today with respect to either to the President or to justice Kavanaugh.
So I really think this is largely politics right now. I think it's a fishing expedition. It might turn up something, I don't know, obviously, but I think that justice Kavanaugh was very much abused in his hearing. I think he was justified after listening and watching all that, and much of what he had to say, it was a reputation of the allegations then. I don't know about the new ones. Obviously that remains to be seen. But I think a lot of this is just politics.
[14:50:14] WHITFIELD: The book is not out yet so many of us have not had a chance to read it, but these new accusations in this book, but it also seems it could potentially be an extension of, remember, there were some investigations prior to the confirmation hearings, and there were some complaints that the investigations didn't go far enough. Some of the accusations were not looked into deep enough, and that perhaps this book now is now reigniting those concerns about justice Kavanaugh?
MCCOLLUM: Well, certainly if you are going to have an investigation, the Judiciary Committee is well within its bounds of the House to investigate, to request documents, to request whatever there may be out there to look at. I feel badly for justice Kavanaugh and the country if this is no more than the flimsy substance in the hearings that we heard earlier. And as I said, I thought he was much abused in that and handled quite well under the circumstances. But it still may be something here. So the judicial committee has every right to look into these matters in what every way they want to within the bounce of their powers of subpoena or bringing witnesses in.
WHITFIELD: So justice Samuel Chase is the only U.S. Supreme justice impeached. That was 1805 but was acquitted by, you know, the Senate. How would proceedings go today in this day and age?
MCCOLLUM: Well, it will be no be any different than any other impeachment. And many federal judges have been impeached. When I was a congressman, several of them were removed from office. WHITFIELD: But a Supreme Court justice.
MCCOLLUM: It could be a Supreme Court -- it doesn't matter whether it's the President of the United States or Supreme Court justice or anyone else. But I would say to you that every bit of scrutiny needs to be there, very carefully looked at. But at the end of the day it's what's right. What is an impeachable offense? It's a high crime or misdemeanor. In the case of removing the President, it's certainly the same thing for a justice. And the question is, did justice Kavanaugh commit any crimes? I'm not aware that he did. Maybe he did. But I'm not aware of them, and so far this is speculation.
With regard to how you go about the process, though, it's all the same. It doesn't make any difference whether it's the president, a judge, a justice of the Supreme Court, a federal office holder, it has to be a high crime misdemeanor and usually has to be a crime.
WHITFIELD: All right. And so there's that, uniformity, you are saying. So President Trump, apparently he just weighed in on this today and then sent out a tweet telling Kavanaugh to sue for libel or the justice department should come to the rescue. Do you see either one of those things happening, and is that the role of a President, to ask direct call on the justice department to intervene in something like this?
MCCOLLUM: Well, certainly this President does things like that pretty routinely, whether I would do it if I were President is another story. But the issue here is whether or not there is a suit. I can't imagine that justice Kavanaugh wants to sue anybody for libel or anybody about anything in this case. He is a sitting justice for life unless somebody comes along and comes up with some reason that he should be removed from office, which is again, is highly speculative at this point. As far as the justice department, I think they should fully cooperate with any investigation the Judiciary Committee puts forward. There is no reason to hide anything, and I don't expect them to do so.
So far as I can see, again, don't know the facts better in this book, but up to this point we see no basis of concluding there would be a successful or even a superficial basis upon which to bring in impeachment charges against the President -- or against justice Kavanaugh. But I think that's a very speculative question right now.
WHITFIELD: All right. Former congressman Bill McCollum, thank you so much for your time and expertise. Appreciate it.
MCCOLLUM: You are welcome.
WHITFIELD: And we will be right back.
[14:57:01] WHITFIELD: All right. A look at our top stories right now. Authorities in New Jersey are calling it a complete pancake style collapse. And you can see why, two decks fell from this beach side condo Saturday night trapping people in the wreckage. According to fire officials the deck on the third floor came crashing down onto a family on the second floor. At least 22 people were injured and three are hospitalized today.
And good news for anyone who has a child that suffers from peanut allergies. The food and drug administration has taken a major step in approving its first peanut allergy treatment. It's called Halforzia and it could reduce the severity of allergic reaction in children ages four to 17. And advisory committee gave it their vote Friday. Full approval is expected in January.
And we will be right back.