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Israeli Exit Polls Say Netanyahu Election Results Too Close to Call; Trump's Ex-Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski Stonewalls Democrats in Hearing; Interview with Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Files Resolution to Impeach Kavanaugh. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired September 17, 2019 - 15:30   ET




BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We will get you back to this hearing involving former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in just a second. But the other huge story we're of course covering, polls have closed in Israel. Will Benjamin Netanyahu land his fifth record- setting term at Prime Minister? Oren Liebermann is live for us in Israel. And Oren, you read some of those preliminary exit polls. I imagine it is still too close to call.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, this remains a very tight race between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party and that's the headquarters we are in right now, and former IDF chief of staff, Benny Gantz and his Blue and White party.

One of the exit polls shows a tie, of 32 seats apiece. One of them shows a one-seat lead for Gantz, and one of them projects a two-seat lead. But these are preliminary exit polls. And even if these aren't the exit polls that Likud here wanted to see in supporters of Netanyahu's Likud party, they're waiting for the actual results.

Exit polls have underestimated their performance in the past and that's what they're hoping happens here again. So although they remain optimistic, it has to be said that that is a cautious optimism. They're waiting for a couple hours from now when we'll see the first tally of votes coming in. Crucially, Brooke, the exit polls all three of them also suggest that neither Netanyahu nor Gantz have what would be considered or what would be appear to be a clear path towards forming a coalition with their natural or likely coalition partners.

And that question is just as crucial for a couple reasons. First, it means that one of the smaller parties here may have a tremendous influence in what Israel's next government looks like. And second, perhaps, the only thing you could say with anything resembling a degree of certainty at this point, is that Israel may be well in store for more political uncertainty in the weeks and months ahead as now even a more complicated task of forming a government proceeds with neither of these having clear advantage over the other one. But it will still be a long night at Likud headquarters as they wait to see the actual results and find out how accurate if at all of course these exit polls actually were -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: And just the fact Netanyahu has had such a close relationship with the current President of the United States, how might that impact the outcome of this election?

LIEBERMANN: Well, we've seen President Donald Trump try to help Netanyahu over the course of this campaign in terms of saying that the two wanted to pursue a mutual defense pact between the countries even if Israeli security experts have in the past reviewed and rejected the idea. It was sort of a tacit approval consent for Netanyahu saying he wanted to annex parts of the Jordan Valley. But the only thing you can say now if these exit polls are right, it wasn't enough. And it was certainly a much more muted sort of helping hand than we saw back in April.

BALDWIN: OK. Oren, thank you very much in Tel Aviv. We'll be of course watching to see if Netanyahu is able to get that clear coalition, the clear path to victory or not. In the meantime, back to Washington, D.C. and Corey Lewandowski in this House Judiciary hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- every note that you take of the President, you put in safe?



REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Mr. Lewandowski I'm going to put a slide up and it's the words that President Trump dictated to you on July 19. Can you read what you wrote down?

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I'm happy to you have read it, Congressman.

SWALWELL: Well, why don't you want to read it, Mr. Lewandowski?

LEWANDOWSKI: I think you should afford me the same privilege you afforded Director Mueller.

SWALWELL: Would you like to read it?

LEWANDOWSKI: No. You're welcome to read it.

SWALWELL: Are you ashamed of the words that you wrote down?

LEWANDOWSKI: President Swalwell, I'm very happy of what I've written but you're welcome to read it if you'd like.

SWALWELL: Are you ashamed to read it out loud.

LEWANDOWSKI: I'm not ashamed of anything in my life, Congressman, are you?

SWALWELL: Then why won't you read the words?

LEWANDOWSKI: Congressman, I've asked and answered your question --

SWALWELL: Lewandowski, why won't you read the words aloud?

LEWANDOWSKI: I've asked and answered your question, Congressman, if you'd like to read the words --

BALDWIN: And that is just a sliver of what we've been watching for the better part of the last few hours between really that is indicative of the exchanges between these Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee and the former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowsky. It's been ping ponging back and forth between the Republicans and Democrats.

Elie Honig is here and you know we've been sitting here watching the whole thing and you've been commenting on it. And your sort of top line comment is that he is a terrible witness.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He's a terrible witness. I'm just looking at this from a trial perspective. I know this political theatre and not a trial but look, he's angry, he's sarcastic and he's not credible. When he's asked direct questions, you had a meeting with the President in the Oval Office. I don't know. What did you say? What page? I mean -- he's obviously dodging the questions he doesn't want to answer.

But he's also firing off these angry zingers calling Eric Swalwell, President Swalwell. I he's guess trying to amuse maybe this audience of one, but that really undercuts a witness' credibility after a certain amount of time. You can see he's in the bag for one side. You can see he's eagerly answering the Republican questions and dodging in a very transparent way the questions he doesn't like.

BALDWIN: OK. Let's keep watching. We're going to take a quick commercial break, we're back with more of this testimony in just a moment.



BALDWIN: In other news today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley says Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation process set quote, a dangerous precedent, and that the Supreme Court Justice must be held accountable for the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.

They are allegations that Justice Kavanaugh denies and now just a couple days after the "New York Times" reported the new allegation against Kavanaugh, one made by a former classmate in a book written by two "Times" reporters. The Massachusetts Democrat is introducing a resolution to impeach him.


BALDWIN: Joining me now from Capitol Hill is Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. Congresswoman Pressley, thank you so much for being with me today.

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Thank you for your interest.

BALDWIN: So first, just describe for me what you would like to do by establishing this investigation.


PRESSLEY: Well, get to the truth. One of the reasons why I ran for Congress is to fight for the healing and the justice of all survivors, 1 in 16 women -- of course, we know this is not a genderized crime and sexual assault is a crime, but a crime disproportionally perpetuated on to women -- and 1 of 16 women their first sexual experience was rape.

This is a public health crisis, an epidemic. I see it also as a social justice issue. And it's deeply concerning that someone who serves on the highest court of the land could have this many allegations.

BALDWIN: And if I may, you know, you have been very open for a long time about describing yourself as a survivor of sexual assaults at a city council meeting in Boston, a couple of years ago you disclosed you were raped at 19 while studying at Boston University. So this is personal for you?

PRESSLEY: Yes, I'm a survivor. I'm a survivor of a near decade of childhood sexual abuse and also campus sexual assault. But I've only told my story to create space for the millions of survivors out there to make sure they know they are seen and that they will be heard.

Again, it's deeply disturbing that someone that serves in the highest court of the land could have this many allegations, and this is why I filed the resolution to initiate an impeachment inquiry.

BALDWIN: But there is already pushback just even within your own caucus. Congressman Nadler says Democrats' hands are full. Senator Durbin says that Kavanaugh impeachment advocates like you need to, quote/unquote, "Get real". Are you disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm from your own party?

PRESSLEY: I believe that every member of this caucus and beyond, because this is not a partisan issue. Again this is an epidemic and for far too long we have been way too tolerant and complicit in perpetuating rape culture. And so I think that everyone is committed in this Democratic caucus to addressing that issue.

BALDWIN: But Durbin said, get real, Congresswoman. He says get real. To that you say what?

PRESSLEY: I say this is the reckoning. And gone are the days we will be complicit and lackadaisical in the fact this is an epidemic and survivors deserve healing and justice and everyone deserves due process.

I filed this resolution to initiate an impeachment inquiry because we need to get to the truth. And I think that Congress can -- we've proven we can do the work of legislating, of oversight and initiating investigations. That's what is happening in judiciary right now.

BALDWIN: What about to those 2020 Democrats like Joe Biden who are not calling specifically for Kavanaugh's impeachment, at least not yet, you would say what to them?

PRESSLEY: It's early in the process. I know what I was sent here to do, the mandate that I was delivered to Congress by the residents of the Massachusetts Seventh Congressional District, and I said that one of the reasons I was coming to Congress was to fight for the healing and the justice of all survivors and so I'm doing what I was delivered to Washington to do.

BALDWIN: The president says Kavanaugh is the one who is being assaulted. Your response to Trump?

PRESSLEY: This was a fundamentally flawed and rushed process. This GOP led Senate and FBI did not follow up on numerous allegations. And I believe that Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez deserve to have their due process, which is why I filed this resolution to initiate an impeachment inquiry so that we could get to the bottom of the matter.

BALDWIN: To your point on being rushed, we know that Democratic Senator Chris Coons said that he alerted the FBI to a potential witness but the witness never actually heard from, you know, the FBI. So Congresswoman Pressley, was this FBI investigation a sham?

PRESSLEY: I think there is a great deal of evidence that points to the fact that this was a rushed and fundamentally flawed investigation both by the FBI and this GOP-led Senate.

And listen, you know, no one is impeachment happy over here. OK. I didn't come to Congress to impeach a president. I certainly didn't come to Congress to impeach a sitting Supreme Court justice. But this is where we find ourselves in unprecedented times and unchartered waters. And so I'm going to do the job that I was sent here to Congress to do.

BALDWIN: But back on the point about the FBI, you know, looking back to that whole process, do you believe the FBI made a decision from the top not to pursue this heavily?

PRESSLEY: I think that there is evidence that supports that. But, again, this is why we need an impeachment inquiry so that we could have a thorough investigation.


BALDWIN: My thanks to Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley for speaking with me just a moment ago. More tense moments up on Capitol Hill today as the President's former campaign manager stonewalls Democrats about conversations he has had with President Trump. Stand by.



BALDWIN: Just into CNN, a week after firing his National Security Adviser John Bolton, President Trump is naming five finalists to be his replacement. Among these names is Bolton's former chief of staff, a U.S. hostage negotiator and Energy Department official and the National Security Adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. Bolton's abrupt departure came as CNN learned that he and the President disagreed on a number of foreign policy strategies including North Korea, Iran, Venezuela. The day before he was let go, they also got into a heated argument over the President's plan to host Taliban leaders up at Camp David.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks so much for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.