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President Trump and His Cronies in Defense Mode; Ukraine Carefully Choosing Words on U.S. Issues; Saudi Crown Prince Accepts Responsibility for Khashoggi's Murder; Trump Wants Schiff Questioned for Fraud and Treason; President Trump's Impeachment Inquiry; The Impeachment of Bill Clinton; Wild Weather; SpaceX Unveils New Mars Rocket; Five Congresswomen are Taking Washington by Storm. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired September 30, 2019 - 03:00   ET

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


[03:00:00]

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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Playing defense. The White House and its allies all in full force, defending the president from the whistleblower fallout. The former presidential aide calls the situation, quote, "disturbing."

Also, ahead, full responsibility, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia accepts the blame for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi but maintains he had nothing to do with it. Plus, this.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at you. You're beautiful.

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HOWELL: A stunning, scary sight in the state of California. An update from the weather center on that.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Three a.m. on the U.S. East Coast.

Allies of Donald Trump are on the defensive. They came out swinging on Sunday as the U.S. president continues to fight an impeachment inquiry. It came out on the Sunday talk show, several insisting the president did nothing wrong when he froze military aid to Ukraine. They also believe he did nothing wrong when he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden. They are also trying to discharge the whistleblower who is at the heart of the scandal. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): President Trump is trying to look into the interference by Russia so it doesn't happen again. I thought you would want to be concerned about making sure that doesn't happen again.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Well I --

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: Shocking evidence that the collusion that they claimed happen in Russia, which didn't happen, it happened in the Ukraine and it happened with Hillary Clinton.

George Soros was behind it. George Soros and his company was funding it.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Do accept now that that's not true?

GIULIANI: I accepted it is true.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The entire whistleblower complaint is based on hearsay. And we are not going to impeach a president based on hearsay as long as I'm around. This is a sham, there is a political smell to this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Well, they had a lot to stay today but the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee isn't buying it. Adam Schiff is depending the inquiry and saying the whistleblower is planning to testify. Listen.

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REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): All that needs to be done at this point is to make sure that the attorneys that represent the whistleblower get the clearances that they need to be able to accompany the whistleblower to testimony. And then we figure out the logistics to make sure that we protect the identity of the whistleblower. That's our paramount concern here.

This whistleblower has done obviously a cardinal service to the country by exposing wrongdoing of the most serious kind. A breach of the president's duty to the country that endangers our security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

SCHIFF: And he's got be worried about his own security right now with the president issuing threats like he did the other say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: And the U.S. president let the fingers do the talking on Twitter there. He had a lot to say, calling the whistleblower his accuser, and says he wants to meet him. He is also calling Schiff a liar and says that he wants him question for fraud and treason for exaggerating an account of the July phone call with Ukraine's leader.

A lot happening this week, CNN's Sarah Westwood has more now on the Ukraine scandal from the White House.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN REPORTER: Allies of President Trump were out in full force on Sunday defending Trump in questioning the motives of the whistleblower as Democratic House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff says his committee has reached a tentative agreement with the whistleblower for him or her to come in and deliver testimony.

And attorneys for the whistleblower also confirmed on Twitter on Sunday that they have been in talks with lawmakers from both parties in the House and the Senate to make that testimony happen.

The top aide to President Trump, Stephen Miller, on Sunday continue to attack the whistleblower as partisan and accuse that person of undermining Trump's administration. Take a listen.

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STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: The president is the whistleblower here, the President of the United States is the whistleblower. And this individual is a saboteur trying to undermine a Democratic elected government.

The behavior of this individual is close to a spy. I don't know who the individual is. All I know is at some point, Chris, we have to focus on the real scandal. Which is three years of deep state sabotage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney on Sunday gave conflicting answers about whether he would be willing to testify before the House intelligence committee.

Giuliani is at the center of the Ukraine controversy; he's mentioned several times in the whistleblower's complaint. And President Trump brought up Giuliani during that now infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.

Now despite telling CNN on Friday that he would be willing to testify before Congress is President Trump gave him all clear. Giuliani did muddy the waters a little bit when he was asked again on Sunday. Take a listen.

[03:05:00]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: I wouldn't cooperate with Adam Schiff. I think Adam Schiff should be removed. If they remove Adam Schiff, if they put a neutral person who hasn't prejudged the case, if they put someone a Democrat who hasn't expressed an opinion yet. If I had a judge in a case and he already announced I'm going to impeach, if he already went ahead and did a hole force episode would I move to recuse that --

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So that's your answer. You're not going to cooperate?

GIULIANI: I didn't say that. I said I will consider it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you wouldn't do it.

GIULIANI: I said -- I said --

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I said I would consider at. I have to be guided by my I have to be guided by my client, frankly, I'm a lawyer. It's his privilege not mine. If he decides that he wants me to testify. Of course, I'll testify.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WESTWOOD: The House Democrats are ramping up pressure on the Trump administration to hand over documents and provide testimony related to the Ukrainian controversy on Friday. Issuing that subpoena for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and giving him a deadline only of until October 4. That's Friday. To provide documents that they have sought since September 9th.

They also want depositions from top State department officials including from former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. Now Volker is slated to appear before three different congressional committees this week. So, the pressure on the White House to provide those documents that House Democrats have been seeking will be intense particularly this week.

Sarah Westwood, CNN, the White House.

HOWELL: Let's put it in perspective now with Natasha Lindstaedt, Natasha, a professor of government at the University of Essex, joining this hour from Colchester, England. Good to have you with us.

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Thanks for having me.

HOWELL: Natasha, looking ahead at what is promising to be a pivotal week. The impeachment inquiry, we'll get underway. And we now know that the whistleblower will likely testify. Given what we know so far about the situation what is the impact of hearing from the very person who ignited the storm?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I think that there is going to be more details that will come out that will solidify for the Democrats what exactly took place. But I think that the Democrats already feel that they have plenty of information. They feel that Trump leveraged, you know, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in order for his own political gain and he admitted it even on the rough transcripts.

And so, I think what they are hoping to find out from the whistleblower is a little bit more about who is involved, when did everything take place and just how deep this actually went. I think they already know that Trump obviously directed this to take place. But they want to know how extensive this goes.

HOWELL: All right. So, you speak to the evidence here, let's look that's point one. Point two, certainly will be public opinion critical in this. And if this latest poll is any indication it seems that Americans are open to this process. Take a look, 55 percent of voters approve of an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, 45 percent disapprove but those numbers still fall on a division that is clear in America on a knife's edge. The question here is there a threat of overreach for Democrats here?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I don't think so, because this is very different then pushing for impeachment over the Mueller probe because it does involve the national security. And as the poll revealed, you know, you have 55 percent that are in favor of pursuing the process. And almost all Democrats, it's up to 90 percent of Democrats are in favor of this.

So, for Democrats, they do have to do what their constituents want. Now of course on the flip side you have almost 80 percent of Republicans that are not in favor of the impeachment process.

But when the process takes place and as more information comes out it's likely that the independents, and the independents at the moment are 49 percent are in favor of the impeachment inquiry might shift their public -- might shift their opinion. And they feel that maybe more information needs to come out. Maybe it's too soon to tell yet. But it's not likely to bring about information that will look good for Trump.

HOWELL: Let's also talk about the pressure on Republicans, those who might say one thing privately but then fall right in line publicly. Is this crisis enough to push those members of the president's own party to reconsider when they are forced to be on the record?

LINDSTAEDT: That is a great question. I mean, if they decide to support Trump through this process, what they are doing is essentially saying, if a Democratic president did something similar then that's essentially OK. That they want to erode our democratic norms and processes in order to support Trump, in order to go with Trump. And that's really a lot there.

[03:09:55]

I mean, this is different than the Mueller probe where Mueller wasn't super clear about whether or not a crime had taken place. He said that there was obstruction of justice but he didn't say that there was conclusion, and he left it to Congress. And there are a lot of what ifs and there is a lot of interpretation.

Here we have evidence of Trump saying, can you do me a favor, can I use taxpayer dollars essentially to get you to investigate a political opponent and undermine the credibility of our elections.

If this happened to a Democrat how would Republicans feel about this? And I think that's something they have to ask themselves. And it seems what's likely is we're going to have a couple that will defect. But what we've seen with Trump he has just been like Teflon. He has been able to retain the support of his Republican allies no matter what.

HOWELL: Natasha Lindstaedt with perspective for us, Natasha, thank you so. Much

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

HOWELL: A former adviser for President Trump says he is deeply disturbed by the entire Ukraine scandal. Tom Bossert, the president's former homeland security adviser called the situation a mess that has him frustrated. He also slammed Mr. Trump's legal team for repeating a conspiracy theory suggesting Ukraine somehow used cybersecurity a firm to frame Russia for interfering, again, the 2016 U.S. election.

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TOM BOSSERT, FORMER U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: It's not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked. You know, I do not want to be glib about this matter but last year retired former Senator Jeh wrote a piece in the Hill magazine saying, the three ways or the five ways to impeach oneself and the third way was to hire Rudy Giuliani.

And at this point, I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again. And for clarity here, George, let me just again repeat that it has no validity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: One of Mr. Trump's staunchest supporters is defending the call with Ukraine's president. It's Republican lawmaker Jim Jordan. He was on CNN State of the Union and he repeated Mr. Trump's false claim that the former vice president of the U.S. Joe Biden wanted a Ukrainian prosecutor fired for investigating a company with ties to Biden's son.

But Jordan was challenged and fact check by my colleague Jake Tapper. Let's watch.

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JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I think that you came here and leveled a bunch of accusations and allegations about --

(CROSSTALK)

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I didn't level, I say the facts. I didn't level, I just said the facts. He is being paid 50,000 a month.

TAPPER: He was paid by a foreign company, yes.

JORDAN: Fifty thousand a month

TAPPER: He was paid by Burisma. But Joe Biden was trying to get a prosecutor who was not pursuing corruption fired. It was support --

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: It was amazing (Inaudible) the two guys are going to defend. You really don't think the vice president --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Sir, it's not just gossips (Ph). It's facts.

JORDAN: The vice president --

TAPPER: And I would think somebody who has been accused of things in the last year into would be more sensitive about throwing out wild allegations against people.

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: I'm not throwing a wild allegation, I'm throwing out the facts. You --

TAPPER: The prosecutor was not pursuing corruption. That's why the entire west wanted him fired including anti-corruption activists in Ukraine, I don't understand what you don't get about that.

JORDAN: I get that, I'm just talking about this specific case that there's been reporting on. And the facts of that specific case are what he was paid per month, $50,000. Like I said, that's more than some of the folks I get the privilege of representing in the fourth district of Ohio get paid in a year. He's getting $50,000 a month, the vice president's son. He got hired for what --

TAPPER: The president's daughter right now is having all sorts of copyrights granted in foreign countries. That doesn't alarm you.

JORDAN: Come on.

TAPPER: The president sons are doing all sorts of business all over the world.

JORDAN: Come on.

TAPPER: That does not alarm?

JORDAN: Jake, come on.

TAPPER: What's come on? Either there's a principle or --

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: The previous --

TAPPER: -- either there's a principle that people should not -- that people should not benefit from different actions or there isn't.

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: The previous administration's FBI went after this president on July 31st --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: They didn't craft the job then because they didn't even acknowledge there was an intervention until after the election.

JORDAN: No, they went after him. They spied on two Americans associated with President trump's campaign. They put Peter Strzok in charge of that.

TAPPER: If they were --

JORDAN: The guy who said Trump should lose 100 million to zero.

TAPPER: OK.

JORDAN: They allowed -- they allowed if Jim Comey leaked documents to get a special --

TAPPER: Sir --

JORDAN: They used a dossier to go get a warrant.

TAPPER: OK. Now we're back to the dossier and Peter Strzok.

JORDAN: No, I'm just saying that's what happened to President Trump. Now none of that worked. None of that work.

TAPPER: I understand you want to change the subject.

JORDAN: No.

TAPPER: But the president is pushing the president of Ukraine to investigate a political rival. I cannot believe that that is OK with you. I can't believe it's OK with me. If this a principle --

(CROSSTALK)

JORDAN: It's not OK because he didn't -- but he didn't do that.

TAPPER: It's in the transcript. We all read it.

JORDAN: I read the transcript.

TAPPER: He says that the Bidens need to be investigated.

JORDAN: You have to read it in context. That's what you guys do. You guys don't read things in context. The context is that that comes up when Zelensky is talking about all investigations opening --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Jake Tapper there fact-checking lawmaker Jim Jordan.

[03:14:55] The impeachment inquiry could turn into a diplomatic nightmare for Ukraine and that maybe why officials there are tightlipped. They are not saying much, at least publicly.

That country relies heavily on the United States for assistance, for financial, for military and diplomatic reasons. And any rift in the relationship could be disastrous with the country's conflict with Russian back rebels. Ukraine's leaders aren't saying much about the U.S. political crisis but a presidential aide says it's not really Ukraine's business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDRIY YERMAK, AIDE TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT ZELENSKY (through translator): These are the internal affairs of the United States. We see in the U.S. they our friends, our strategic partner. What happens there is their internal political kitchen. We will not take part in this in any way. Our friendship and our support is bilateral, it is there, it is very powerful and I am sure that will continue to be so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: And now live in Ukraine, CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward in Kiev. Good to have you with us, Clarissa. Look, as questions grow as this process plays out this week here stateside it leaves Ukraine in a very uncertain situation you could say.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. Ukrainian politicians, officials, members of the government really desperate for this to all disappear. Because frankly, it leaves them in a deeply uncomfortable position as you heard there in that excerpt of the interview on Ukrainian TV with Andriy Yermak. He is a senior aide to President Zelensky. He is also mentioned in the whistleblower's complaint because he actually met with Rudy Giuliani in Madrid back in August.

But wat he was basically saying is Ukraine is not going to pick sides. Ukraine is not going to get involved in the U.S.' domestic political issues.

This is very difficult for Ukraine, because as you mentioned, it relies heavily on the largest funding of the U.S., particularly military funding. Some $400 million from the U.S. in military aid this year alone that going towards a war that is being fought in the eastern part of the country against pro-Russian separatists.

And so, essentially, this is really an existential matter for Ukrainian officials. They cannot afford to have any political fallout. They cannot afford to be seen to be taking sides in any way, shape, or form.

And that is why, George, we have not seen really any meaningful commentary or insight coming from Ukrainian officials as to what happened after that conversation that now famous, or infamous conversation between President Zelensky and President Trump and whether Zelensky believes there was real pressure for him to go ahead and begin investigating President Trump's political opponents. George.

HOWELL: Ukrainian officials there will continue to walk that tight rope, that tight line as again the storm clouds gather this week in Washington with this inquiry.

Clarissa Ward, thank you for the reporting. We'll keep in touch with you.

HOWELL: One year after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi the Saudi crown prince is speaking out on the journalist death. We'll hear what he has to say. Standby.

[03:20:00]

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HOWELL: The crown prince of Saudi Arabia says that he takes full responsibility for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But Mohammad bin Salman denies ordering the killing. You'll remember Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi government, he disappeared nearly a year ago last seen going into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd, 2018. Khashoggi did not come out of that consulate. He was allegedly murdered by the Saudi government agents there.

And here is what the crown prince told CBS' News 60 Minutes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: Did you order the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?

MOHAMMAD BIN SALMAN, CROWN PRINCE OF SAUDI ARABIA (through translator): Absolutely not, this was a heinous crime. But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.

O'DONNELL: What does that mean, that you take responsibility?

BIN SALMAN (through translator): When a crime is committed against a Saudi citizen by officials working for the Saudi government, as a leader I must take responsibility. This was a mistake. And I must take all actions to avoid such a thing in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Our senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman has been following the crown prince's comments. Ben joining this hour live in Beirut, Lebanon. Good to have you with us.

Ben, look, you hear these comments for --what does it mean for Mohammad bin Salman to come out and say that he is responsible but didn't order the murder?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm certainly in the sense that he is the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and he also says in that interview, it's a country with 20 million people, three million civil servants and as the crown prince, basically the de facto head of the government, he is responsible for whatever is done by his civil servants.

But beyond that, really, this interview doesn't advance the story, really because the Saudi government long ago conceded that, in their words, it was a rogue element that killed Jamal Khashoggi and dismembered him on the 2nd of October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. And some of the hit -- members of the hit team are indeed on trial but that is not a public trial to which the public or journalists have access to.

But I would refer you back to comments by President Donald Trump who said that this is the worst cover-up ever. We have heard the CIA say that it is their determination, that the crown prince was aware of this murder.

[03:25:00]

In a country like Saudi Arabia you cannot send a hit team in Saudi government planes to the Saudi consulate, murder a man who has had intimate ties with the Saudi royal family going back to the 1980s without the knowledge of the head of state.

And rather than the 60 Minutes interview, I would refer our viewers to the PBS Frontline special on Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. It's two hours long but it gives viewers a much better idea of the role of the crown prince in Saudi Arabia, and perhaps his role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. George?

HOWELL: Ben Wedeman on the story. Ben live for us in Beirut. Ben, thank you.

We have been following events in Hong Kong and we now know that protest organizers are canceling a march that was planned for Tuesday just after police rejected their permit application.

The Civil Human Rights Front has organized some of the biggest rallies this year there. They picked Tuesday to march because it is China's national day, the 78th anniversary of the country's communist government.

Lack of police permission doesn't always keep crowds away though. We've seen that happen over the last several months.

Hong Kong officials in the meantime are bracing for possible violence. Violence like we saw over the weekend. Protesters hurling gasoline bombs. We see the video here. A chaotic scene, throwing bricks at police and blocked off the streets with fire and barricades. Officers responded with tear gas and water cannons.

Around the world if you're watching on CNN international, thank you for being with us. Innovate Africa is up next for you. For our viewers on CNN USA, the news continues right after this. So, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [03:30:00]

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Live coast-to-coast across the United States. You're watching "CNN Newsroom." I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this morning.

A pivotal week ahead in Washington. The president is on the defensive. He wants the democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee questioned for fraud and treason for exaggerating his account with the president's July phone call with the leader of Ukraine. Donald Trump's attack on Adam Schiff comes as Democrats move forward with an impeachment inquiry. The president also says he wants to meet with the whistleblower at the heart of the Ukraine scandal.

The Ukrainian government is staying tight-lipped about the scandal and is trying to distance themselves with the ongoing political battle here in the U.S. Ukraine is fighting a war against Russian-backed rebels and relies heavily on military aid from the United States. An adviser to the Ukrainian president says his country maintains a powerful friendship with the U.S.

Adam Schiff is also saying there is a tentative agreement for the Ukrainian whistleblower to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. He says there will be unfiltered testimony and that the White House and Justice Department won't let the whistleblower -- won't tell the whistleblower rather what they can or can't say.

Mr. Trump's allies are staunchly defending him. They say there is nothing in the Ukraine call that rises to the level of impeachment, but the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, she disagrees with that and she spoke to "60 Minutes" on CBS about it. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): They're wrong. And with -- it remains to be seen because it's not just what happens in the call. It's part of the sequencing of events as well. You withdraw a couple of hundred million dollars-worth of assistance to a country. And then a couple of days later, say, by the way, can you help me with my campaign, in other words. There's a sequencing there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: The president's call with Ukraine's leader may have given Democrats the ammunition they were looking for to try to impeach him. Now, the 2020 presidential candidates are weighing in on this phone call. CNN's Dan Merica has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Democratic presidential candidates continue to debate the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump with two particular candidates, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar, debating that topic and taking questions from voters here in Detroit. Amy Klobuchar was very blunt about the topic, saying that the current state of affairs around Trump could be compared to eventual resignation of Richard Nixon. Take a listen to what she said.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To me, this reminds me of Watergate. We just don't have file cabinets anymore. In Watergate, they dispatch people to break in and get information, in the course of it broke the law, and then there was a cover-up. In this case, the fact that this president is asking for dirt from a foreign leader for an ongoing political race which endangers the security of our country, to me, it is the same thing.

MERICA: Now, Warren, who has been more aggressive on the topic in the last few months, defended the fact that she has already come to the decision that President Trump should be impeached even if she may be asked to take the vote in the Senate should the House vote to impeach the president. Here is what she said when asked about that topic.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am glad for the House to the investigation but it looks pretty clear to me what is going on. He wants to mount a defense. I'm certainly willing to listen to it. But that is the evidence that is in front of us right now.

MERICA: All of this comes as a newly released poll shows cracks in Elizabeth Warren's rise especially in the critical state of South Carolina.

Now, this poll shows that not only does Vice President Joe Biden have a 21 percent lead in the state, but the issues with Warren are more dire when you get to black voters, where she is the first choice of only four percent of black voters in South Carolina compared to 45 percent for Biden.

That is a big issue for Warren, especially in a state where 60 percent of the electorate is expected to be African-American.

Dan Merica, CNN, Detroit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: All right. Dan, thank you. The impeachment inquiry has put President Trump on a path that few presidents have experienced before him. Of the 45 men who have taken the oath of office, only two were ever impeached. Neither of them was kicked out.

Richard Nixon, though, gets an asterisk because he resigned rather than face a vote. Now, as the country again considers impeachment, CNN looks back at the last time a U.S. president nearly lost his job.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What began as a search for evidence in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case has mushroomed into another investigation of the president and his personal conduct.

[03:34:59] RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Personal conduct by President Bill Clinton with a White House intern.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House started to receive subpoenas from the independent counsel Kenneth Starr, seeking all of the records involving Monica Lewinsky.

KAYE (voice-over): During a deposition in Paula Jones lawsuit, Clinton was questioned about an extramarital affair with Lewinsky. He denied it all and reiterated as much days later to reporters.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relation with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.

KAYE (voice-over): First lady Hillary Clinton suggested it all was some sort of conspiracy.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: This vast right wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.

KAYE (voice-over): Seven months later, Clinton admitted he did have a relationship with Lewinsky and had withheld information during his deposition.

B. CLINTON: While my answers were legally accurate, I did not volunteer information.

KAYE: The issue wasn't so much the affair as it was the president had lied about it, and there were concerns he had asked others to lie about it too though he denied doing so. Still, independent counsel Kenneth Starr investigated, later telling the House Judiciary Committee, Clinton chose deception.

KENNETH STARR, THEN-INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: The evidence suggests that the president repeatedly tried to thwart the legal process in the Jones matter.

KAYE (voice-over): In December 1998, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton, charging him with lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice.

PELOSI: Today, the republican majority is not judging the president with fairness but impeaching him with a vengeance.

BOB LIVINGSTON, THEN U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: I say that you have the power to terminate that damage and heal the wounds that you have created. You, sir, may resign your post.

KAYE (voice-over): The president's trial in the Senate, which would decide if he would be removed from office, got under way the following month, January 1999. About a month after his trial began on February 12th, 1999, President Bill Clinton was acquitted on both articles of impeachment after the Senate failed to get the necessary two-thirds majority vote.

WILLIAM REHNQUIST, THEN U.S. SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: The said William Jefferson Clinton be, and he hereby is, acquitted of the charges in the said articles.

KAYE (voice-over): The president, once again, apologized to the nation.

B. CLINTON: I want to say, again, to the American people, how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people.

KAYE (voice-over): An investigation that cost tens of millions of dollars ended with President Bill Clinton, finishing out his second term.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Randi, thank you. Still ahead, you could call it an out of this world unveiling. SpaceX showing off its new creation, a reusable craft meant to take people to the moon, to Mars, and well beyond that.

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[03:40:00]

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(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Look at you! You're beautiful!

(LAUGHTER)

HOWELL: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

HOWELL (voice-over): Kind of scary, though. That is the sound of a storm chaser, someone following a tornado in California, of all places. This is near the town of Davis, California, near Sacramento. Residents have been experiencing unusual weather over the weekend. Fortunately, no damage caused but, my goodness, look at that. Let's bring in meteorologist Pedram Javaheri in the Weather Center.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Pedram, what is happening?

(LAUGHTER)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is an exciting time. It sounds a little funny listening to them, but I can relate a little bit with what is happening out there.

Incredible weather here in the past couple of days and about 80 reports of severe weather over the last couple of days across the country, two of which related to tornadoes, of course that particular one across areas of Yolo County there in California near Davis. In fact, the first one since 2014, March 2014, first tornado in that region since that time.

When you take a look at California tornado history, on average, about 10 per year often happens in the winter season and also in the spring season, but still not unheard of here to see it across this region here in the fall as well.

But 10 reports of tornadoes, you go back to the 1950s, put all the numbers together, you get 430 reports and zero fatalities because the vast majority of them are EF0s and EF1s, and then 90 injuries associated with those.

Again, there are very small tornadoes historically speaking. You compare that to, say, Oklahoma where they see upwards of 4,000 in that same time period. And only five of these 400 plus tornadoes have been considered large tornadoes, EF2 or greater.

Again, that is the tornado history action across portions of California. That particular one, of course, is much, much smaller. Notice what has been happening to the north there and to the state of Montana, significant snowfall in recent days. We are talking about snowfall being measured on the order of feet in a few spots.

Glacier Park area is taking up upwards of two feet of snowfall and of course this region is one of the coldest in the country right now with highs only in the 40s, but opposite end of the spectrum across the Midwest, across the South where reports of about 200 record high temperatures possible over the next couple of days.

Really incredible way to start the month of October year when you consider highs are expected to be into the middle and even the upper 90s. The upper 70s and low 80s are more in line with what you expect even to places such as Indianapolis, Chicago. Even Minneapolis is expecting highs to be close to 90 degrees.

Notice this. We climb into the month of October come Tuesday, and eventually by Wednesday, temps climb up to 90 degrees there in New York City. George, the hint of fall, big-time hint of the year returns from Thursday on. Looks like New York City drops off into the 60s and much of the south even get a small taste of that with 80s in the forecast, so relief definitely for a lot of people.

HOWELL: I think from New York to Atlanta, we will take it. Pedram Javaheri, thank you.

JAVAHERI: Yes. Thank you.

HOWELL: Now to a story that you could say is out of this world. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk believes that his space travel company may be able to fly people in the orbit within a year for billions of dollars less than he had expected. He made that comment on Saturday at a SpaceX launch facility in Texas. That is where he unveiled his new interplanetary rocket dubbed the "Starship" and made some bold predictions to our Rachel Crane.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RACHEL CRANE, CNN SPACE AND SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT: Your goal has always been to make us a multi-planetary species.

ELON MUSK, CEO, SPACEX: Yeah.

CRANE: To establish a colony on Mars. Tonight, today, the unveiling of "Starship," is that a turning point in that mission?

MUSK: Yeah. I think this is the first time we have real hardware of something that is capable of -- with a little evolution of being something that could create a self-sustaining city on Mars and a base on the moon.

CRANE: You said tonight that you might be flying people in a year in this thing?

[03:45:01]

MUSK: If the development continues to improve exponentially, then I think we could be sending people to orbit before the end of next year.

CRANE: Mm-hmm.

MUSK: You know, within a year approximately.

CRANE: But SpaceX hasn't put a human in space yet. How are you guys going to do this in a year?

MUSK: Well, we will be putting people into orbit soon. We will be transporting NASA probably in three or four months to the space station.

CRANE: On that point, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted yesterday, saying that he was excited about the event today, but he also said "commercial crew is years behind schedule and it's time to deliver." Did you take that --

MUSK: Did he say commercial crew SOS?

CRANE: He said commercial crew.

MUSK: OK, geez.

CRANE: I mean --

(LAUGHTER)

CRANE: -- interchangeable.

(LAUGHTER) CRANE: How do you respond to that? Do you take that as a dig?

(LAUGHTER)

MUSK: Well, I mean, first of all, everything in aerospace is years behind. It is really a question of relatively speaking which one is more late.

CRANE: Mm-hmm.

MUSK: So, the hardware for the how to abort demonstration for Crew Dragon will be there in October. The hardware for the first crew flight will be there in November. And so most of the work that is required from now through flight of NASA astronauts is a long series of safety reviews.

So it's not really hardware-related and it's really going as fast as we can make it go. If there is some way to make it go fast, I would make it go faster.

CRANE: Let's talk about funding. You said in the past that "Starship" would cost between $2 and $10 billion. Are you still looking at that price tag?

MUSK: I think it is actually -- Yeah, yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

MUSK: Big range. I think it's probably closer to two or three than it is to 10.

CRANE: Is that because of the switch to steel?

MUSK: The switch to steel is fundamental.

CRANE: Mm-hmm.

MUSK: I think that is literally -- that might be the best design decision I've ever made. I can't think of a better one. Steel is lighter than the common fiber solution or lighter than aluminum lithium (ph) solution and costs two percent as much.

CRANE: In hindsight, do you wish that you would use steel?

MUSK: Absolutely. No-brainer.

CRANE: The climate crisis. We have seen protests all over the globe this month mostly led by young people like Greta Thunberg.

MUSK: Yeah.

CRANE: Does the public outcry, does that increase the urgency for what you guys are doing here?

MUSK: Well, I mean, I really view what we are doing here is making life multi-planetary as opposed to -- I mean, I think 99 percent of our resources should be on making sure that the future on earth is good.

I think at least one percent of our resources should be on making life multi-planetary and extending consciousness out to other planets both for the defensive reason of preserving the light of conscious into the future as well as the adventure, the excitement. I find it personally more motivating than the defensive argument.

CRANE: Mm-hmm. So you prefer to be optimist rather than a pessimist?

MUSK: I think excitement and adventure and a sense of possibility about the future are incredibly important. Otherwise, why live?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Possibilities abound. We will be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: The impeachment inquiry into the U.S. president is polarizing both sides of the aisle, but five freshmen House Democrats have become unlikely leaders in this effort. CNN's Dana Bash explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even before they were elected --

You have adopted the bas ass label.

These freshmen congresswomen created their own group, the "Bad Asses."

REP. CHRISSY HOULAHAN (D-PA): We were out running for Congress across the country and we kept running into each other. "Bad Asses" kind of came organically from the group since we all had either served in the military or in the CIA.

REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): We have a lot in common. We all were working to flip seats, to be elected in places where voters may not typically vote for people like us or with our backgrounds.

BASH (voice-over): Navy veterans Mikie Sherrill and Elaine Luria, Air Force veteran Chrissy Houlahan, ex-CIA officers Elissa Slotkin and Abigail Spanberger. A band of sisters bonded while storming the unfamiliar terrain of politics.

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): Being able to text folks and say, you know, I'm really getting hit up on this issue. How have you been handling it? I'm not sure how to translate my service into something that is relatable. How do you guys do that?

BASH (voice-over): Translating their service is exactly what they did with their 180 on starting an impeachment inquiry, going from no to yes after hearing President Trump admit he spoke to Ukraine's leader about Joe Biden. Others followed suit, including the house speaker.

SLOTKIN: The specter of having the sitting president of the United States use leverage over a foreign leader to get dirt on an opponent. Like that very basic idea, I think, cut for us as national security people just close to the bone on, you know, sort of our democratic institutions.

BASH (voice-over): They penned an op-ed along with two freshmen male veterans.

HOULAHAN: It was a great example of the power of teamwork and the power of kind of doing -- putting country above party.

BASH (voice-over): Was it one for all and all for one?

HOULAHAN: Oh, absolutely.

REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): I think we all sort of came to that conclusion together. We text each other, and I think we are all going, OK, I think this has all changed. This is a bright line.

BASH (voice-over): Backing an impeachment inquiry is risky political business for these congresswomen, already some of the most vulnerable in the House, Democrats who won in mostly Trump territory.

SPANBERGER: I believe that if I am out there explaining what these allegations are and why they are so deeply concerning, that the people will understand why we had to take a stand.

SLOTKIN: All of us in our prior lives, all the time, had to make hard calls for the reasons we thought were right when we knew that not everyone would understand or even know. And that to me is something I feel comfortable doing because I've always had to do it.

[03:55:02]

BASH (voice-over): Even so, this is a group still trying to find their sea legs in politics.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA): I'm supervising operation in nuclear reaction. And never turned the reactor operator and said, are you a Democrat, are you a Republican. It was new to jump into such a partisan environment.

BASH (voice-over): They represent swing districts, very different from another more famous female freshmen group, "The Squad."

(On camera): I'm just going to put it out there. The group of freshmen females that people know about is "The Squad." Are you guys the anti-Squad?

SHERRILL: What I tell people in my district, the left wing of our party has created such momentum behind things like moving forward on our environment.

SLOTKIN: None of us is ever going to get in a Twitter war with anyone else. If we have a concern with someone, we're going to go right up and talk to them about it. And we're not going to add unhelpful rhetoric to a an already bad tone coming out of Washington.

SPANBERGER: I don't think any of us want to be the loudest voice in the room. I just want to be one of the most effective.

BASH (voice-over): Their previous service taught them to be fearless, which comes in handy now.

LURIA: There's not a vertical chain of command structure so you know --

BASH (on camera): Well, there is. But obviously it sounds like you guys aren't following it.

(LAUGHTER)

SLOTKIN: No one can fire us except the people that elected us.

SHERRILL: None of us came to Congress from a district that wants us to just sit here and be quiet and learn the ropes. They want us to engage, they want change, and they want it now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Dana Bash there reporting. Thank you, Dana. And thanks for being with us this hour for "CNN Newsroom."

I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. And to New York, we go next, "Early Start." Stay with us.

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END