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McConnell Vows to Stop Trump Impeachment in New Ads on Facebook; Federal Judge Blocks Trump's Lawsuit to Block Congress from Getting Tax Returns; Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) Discusses Judge Dismissing Lawsuit to Block Congress Getting Trump's Tax Returns, Impeachment Inquiry, 2 Keys Witnesses to Testify on Ukraine; Union Says Talks To End G.M. Strike Take Turn For Worse. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 7, 2019 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: When it comes to the whistleblower complaint, and now we should say whistleblowers, and impeachment, most Republicans are trying their level best to say as little as possible.

One Republican taking a very different approach right now. Senator -- Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, running head on into it and putting money behind it with new ads on Facebook. Watch this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Nancy Pelosi's in the clutches of a left-wing mob. They've finally convinced her to impeach the president. All of you know your Constitution. The way that impeachment stops is with a Senate majority with me as majority leader.


BOLDUAN: He's not wrong, but where are the rest of the Republicans and the Senate right now?

Here with me is CNN special correspondent, Jamie Gangel, and CNN political director, David Chalian.

Jamie, they're definitely not talking publicly, most Republicans. But what are you hearing from Republicans privately about impeachment and maybe specifically what the emergence of another whistleblower, a second person to come forward? Has it changed anything?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I like to say they're looking for a bigger desk to hide under.

Absolutely, it changes. And we heard one lawyer say they are representing multiple whistleblowers. The Republicans don't know what's coming next. And Nancy Pelosi has also very carefully by not having this vote kept a lot of information away from them.

There's also what they told me over the weekend from Republicans in both the House and Senate, Trump exhaustion. They are -- they don't, many of them, consider him a true Republican. They are worried about the economy. And they said -- one said it's not like we're defending Ronald Reagan. So there's a very wait and see.

BOLDUAN: So, David, you have Ron Johnson -- we've talked about, talked about Ron Johnson earlier, but the gymnastics that is required here to stand with the president is something to see. It's now -- what we saw yesterday was, don't believe what you see and don't believe what you're actually hearing from folks.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICS DIRECTOR: Right. When Jamie's saying they don't know what's next, true, but they do know what is already in the public domain.

BOLDUAN: Right. Absolutely.

CHALIAN: They can read the transcript of the call. And -- it's as Mike Turner, the Republican, of Ohio, said, this is not, OK, Mr. President.

Now he may not be on board with impeachment, but at least he's saying this is not OK. We're not even hearing that from many Republicans. In fact, the defense is a little bit all over the map.


CHALIAN: You know, there's not one clear road. Whether Marco Rubio suggests something is a joke or Roy Blunt suggests something as a joke, or as you said, Ron Johnson going a bit more into the conspiracy hole.

What is -- what I think Republicans are facing -- and you are right, Mitch McConnell's not wrong with his strategy there. He -- he is absolutely right to say, hey, I am and our Senate majority is what is going to stop this president being removed from office. You need to vote us back in. That is where the party is. There's no doubt about that.

But as Tucker Carlson laid out for Republicans, can't you keep your principles and say this is wrong and it's not impeachable. But they can't do that because President Trump doesn't believe it's wrong. And so they would be in a different place than the president who says it's a perfect call.



BOLDUAN: And the place that those who have spoken out have gotten to, they can't -- you can always try to go back, but they've already dug themselves in to this. They can't go back and say, oh, it is bad, but it's not something that I'd like to impeach. I guess, is their bottom line the threshold question? Are you hearing from Republicans what they are watching for, waiting

for, or saying that how much is too much and what that is?

GANGEL: Let's go with the watching words first. The think I heard over the weekend. Watch the polls, watch the polls, watch the polls. They're waiting to see will voters -- look, will the MAGA base stay with him? Yes. But maybe not some of the Republicans and Independents they need. Will there be a shift? That's what they're waiting for.

CHALIAN: I do think that who you have here is a loyalty to the president, but there -- they have to start thinking about, what is the party, where does it stand.

And yet, that's what you hear, when you talk to Republicans, they feel they've lost a sense of that. They understand that they are entirely the party of Donald Trump right now. And that's sort of -- they have put their lot with him and that's where they are.

And you say the MAGA folks, remember, the great majority of these members rely on those folks turning out, and their turnout being supercharged in order to win primaries and get re-elected in the fall --


BOLDUAN: Yes, as one -- one Republican said the only election they're looking at now is the primary. Let's see what happens today.

Thanks, guys.

CHALIAN: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Just in, a federal judge just dismissed President Trump's attempt to keep his tax returns secret, but are those tax returns any closer now to being released? Details ahead.



BOLDUAN: A federal judge has dismissed President Trump's lawsuit to block an effort to get his tax returns in New York. The judge saying this morning, the president's claim of immunity from criminal process would, quote, "constitute an overreach of executive power."

The president filed the lawsuit after Manhattan's district attorney subpoenaed his accounting firm for his tax returns and related documents going back to 2011. The D.A. is investigating whether the Trump Organization violated any state laws.

An attorney for the president has already filed an appeal. So that is ongoing.

All of that is also going on in New York, while back in Washington, the president is facing other fast-moving impeachment inquiry in Congress. Two key witnesses named in the whistleblower complaint heading to Capitol Hill this week.

For more, joining me is Democratic Congressman Greg Meeks, of New York. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, thanks for being here.

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): Good being with you.

BOLDUAN: I do know that you want to see the president's tax returns. I'll move on because I want to ask about impeachment.

Two key witnesses coming before your committee and others. Gordan Sondland was on a last of those text messages that we've seen so far publicly, that is getting a lot of attention. What do you want to ask him?

MEEKS: I wanted to find out because I used to be a prosecutor. When you look at it, to me, it seems that they were having a conversation via text or e-mail, then one party did not like the way it was going, says, "Call me." Five hours go by. What took place in that five hours? Were there further conversations in that five hours?

Once that was done and completed that five hours, they then repeated the scenario where you had another statement that tried to exculpate the president and the position.

So I am concerned about that we are undergoing right now a cover-up by individuals who are close to the president or in the president's administration. And I want to know what took place, when, how, what the timing is because I think that's very important.

BOLDUAN: He can provide a lot of that information considering when you see his placement in these conversations and those text messages.

And then you also have the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Maria Yovanovitch. She's coming in later this week. She was pushed out in the midst of this going on. What do you want to ask her?

MEEKS: Well, you know, we've already seen that the president pushed her out and have used describing her language that would seem to make her seem as though she was not patriotic.

I want to know what was taking place, what was the relationship she had with the Ukrainian president and Ukrainian government, and what was the administration trying to get her to do that maybe she didn't really want to do.

Because what we're finding out now, by many of the individuals within the State Department -- and that's why a number of them have either resigned in the past or are starting to step up and speak out -- are being compelled to do something when they are, in fact, patriots of the United States and will stand up and tell the truth. I think that's what's taking place now.

BOLDUAN: So that's coming up this week.


Friday was already a deadline for the secretary of state to comply with requests for documents. That didn't happen. What is the committee going to do now? What are the steps now?

MEEKS: Here's the steps -- either they cooperate or they're not.

BOLDUAN: You give them more time.

MEEKS: They're going to subpoena and, once we subpoena, if they don't cooperate, we hold them in contempt. And --


BOLDUAN: That's going to do nothing --


MEEKS: -- if that continues, then you also look at it as additional articles to consider for impeachment in regard to the obstruction of Congress being able to do its work.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, the White House has said that they're not going to comply with -- the president specifically has said he's not going to comply with anything until the House holds this floor vote to open the impeachment inquiry.

I understand that it is not required, understood not to be required under the Constitution. But that vote has been held at the beginning of the last two presidential impeachment inquiries. Why not hold that vote?

MEEKS: We're not going to allow the individual who is the subject to this investigation to tell us how to investigate.

BOLDUAN: But that's how it was done in the past.

MEEKS: And this time, Nancy Pelosi has been very clear, and I agree with her, that we're going to get all of the information -- you know, generally in a regular process, the grand jury doesn't go and hold the vote.

BOLDUAN: This isn't a regular grand jury process.

MEEKS: I agree. But I'm talking about the logic of it. The logic of it is to get all of the information so that we know -- give the other side a chance to refutiate (sic) it also.

BOLDUAN: Are you concerned what the vote total would show? What it would mean for vulnerable Democrats holding the vote now?

MEEKS: No, because what you would say now, leaning for the -- inquiry, you have over 218 now. And I think what everyone is saying is, though, we want to give individuals the opportunity to -- if you've got something to say that's going to contradict this --

BOLDUAN: OK, but --


MEEKS: -- you have the opportunity to bring it forward.

BOLDUAN: -- being candid, is the -- not holding the vote, is it about not wanting to give Republicans or the president more control over the process, which depending on how it's written and how the vote would go down, that's what it would do.

MEEKS: What you will see take place -- is not going to take a long time, in an expedited manner, we're going to do our work. The three committees are working now. And we will find out whether or not the administration is going to cooperate or not.

But don't expect this to be stretched out for a long period of time. There will come a time where there has to be a vote, and that will happen. But it will happen as we complete our work. And i don't think that it will take a long period of time to get there.

BOLDUAN: All right. Yet you're not going to give me an end date? A deadline?

MEEKS: There's no -- it's going to take the time --


BOLDUAN: Just making sure --


MEEKS: -- we need to get it done.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for coming in. Appreciate your time.

MEEKS: My pleasure.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, it is the longest autoworkers strike in decades. Talks between General Motors and striking employees may have just taken a turn for the worse. The latest on that ahead.



BOLDUAN: The stalemate between the United Auto Workers Union and General Motors is now entering its fourth week with no end in sight. The walkout included nearly 50,000 employees. Despite days of reported of progress, the union says negotiations have taken a turn for the worse.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich went to Detroit to find out the real impact on families as the strike has dragged on.


JESSIE KELLY, G.M. WORKER: -- for the American dream.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS REPORTER (voice-over): Jessie Kelly's life is in boxes.

KELLY: We use this as a toy room, so --

YURKEVICH (on camera): Now it's a box.

KELLY: -- now it's a box-holding room, yes.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): These boxes packed and ready for the dream home she's saved for. Then, she went on strike.

KELLY: It's devastating. It's very hard. You just see your savings depleting every single day a little bit more and more.

YURKEVICH: Kelly is a single mom, raising her 6-year-old son, Colton --


YURKEVICH: -- and living at her mom's house until she can close on her new home. She's one of 50,000 autoworkers on strike against G.M., surviving on $250 a week.

KELLY: The other day I had to go get a new rim on my car and I remember just that sinking feeling of, this is my whole strike check for this week, is the cost of this rim.

YURKEVICH: She also lives in Macomb County, Michigan, critical to President Trump's win in 2016 and helping him flip the state red.

PATRICK ANDERSON, PRINCIPAL AND CEO, ANDERSON ECONOMIC GROUP: A lot of the people in the auto industry are very sensitive about where the economy is and they are very careful to look at which leader is going to help them maintain their jobs.

YURKEVICH: The auto industry is the anchor of Michigan's economy. For every one auto job, seven others are created. And they're hit harder, losing an estimated $400 million in wages since the strike began.

Amicci's Pizza, down the street from G.M.'s Hamtramck plant, says sales are down 25 percent.

JOHN GROSSI, OWNER, AMICCI'S PIZZA: We don't like having to give employees and drivers bad news that they can't work because we don't have enough business to support all the paychecks. I'm hopeful that they'll find a solution to the problem before it becomes a bigger problem for us than it already is.

YURKEVICH: Michigan has the highest risk of recession in the nation and this strike could push the Rust Belt state over the edge.

ANDERSON: There's no way to look at the strike now and not say somehow this is going to play into how people feel about the economy when they start thinking seriously about the presidential election in 2020.

YURKEVICH: In the 2016 election, Trump campaigned in Michigan more than Hillary Clinton and won, which is why nearly every 2020 candidate has walked the picket line.

John Hatline has taken notice.

JOHN HATLINE, G.M. WORKER: Anytime I can get presidential support here behind the union to help us in our cause, you know, it's fantastic.



YURKEVICH (voice-over): Hatline, a Democrat, knows many of his fellow picketers are Trump supporters.

HATLINE: I'm sure after the strike some of them may change their position when they're going without a house payment or without eating that week.


YURKEVICH: And one of the main reasons why these negotiations fell apart over the weekend is because the union is insistent that G.M. bring jobs back from Mexico and product lines here to the United States.

This is important because G.M. is slated to close four plants by the end of 2020, Kate, including this one behind me. So these workers holding out for their fate on the contracts but also whether they'll have a job to return to in 2020 -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: Vanessa, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

We'll be right back.