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Moderate Dems Take Shots at Warren in CNN Debate; State Department Official Says He Was Told to Lay Low After Giuliani Complaint. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired October 16, 2019 - 05:00   ET

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


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JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: The Democratic debate, the candidates made their case on health care and foreign policy, impeachment.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Costs will go up for the wealthy. For middle class families, they will go down.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything. Except this.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I never discussed a single thing with my son about anything having to do with Ukraine.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: This is the most consequential process the House can engage in. Yet, house Democrats have wasted in time throwing fairness and precedent to the wind.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is not a game for us. This is deadly serious.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

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ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We're still just going over everything that happened last night.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Last night? It was 20 minutes.

CAMEROTA: That's right, yes. I actually was still watching the replay at 3:00 a.m.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, October 16th, 5:00 here in New York, for a special edition of NEW DAY.

So if you were up late last night watching the CNN/"New York Times" debate, rise and shine so we can dissect all that happened. There were a lot of headlines.

One was that much of the field took aim at apparently the new front- runner, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. She had to fend off attacks about the cost of her Medicare for All plan. More moderate candidates like Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar were most critical of Warren.

And progressive Senator Bernie Sanders had a strong return to the stage just weeks after suffering that heart attack.

Former Vice President Joe Biden offered a full-throated defense of his son, Hunter, and some stinging criticism for President Trump. But the biggest headlines for both Sanders and Biden came after the debate. So, we'll have complete coverage of the aftermath this morning.

BERMAN: Also this morning, significant new reporting in the impeachment investigation. So many revelations from witnesses within the administration that CNN has learned that the White House is growing frustrated.

Here are just a few. A State Department official testified that he was told to lay low after complaining about Rudy Giuliani's efforts to undermine U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. That's when acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, reportedly intervened to change control of who was overseeing the Ukraine relationship and Mulvaney is reportedly a key player in withholding funds from Ukraine.

New legal jeopardy, criminal legal jeopardy for Rudy Giuliani. CNN has learned that a grand jury has subpoenaed former Republican Congressman Pete Sessions on matters connected to Giuliani and his two associates who were arrested last week.

All of this together paints a picture of a months-long efforts to implement what witnesses describe as a shadow foreign policy, not necessarily for national interests, but the president's personal gain.

So we have news developing all over the place. We're going to get to all of it. We will start, though, with the debate, which as we said, ended just minutes ago.

MJ Lee live at the debate hall in Westerville, Ohio -- MJ.

MJ LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Good morning, guys. A fiery debate last night here in Westerville, Ohio, where we saw one of the clearest signs yet that Senator Elizabeth Warren is seen as one of the front-runners in the Democratic nomination for president. She tried to deflect criticism all night coming at her from all directions.

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LEE (voice-over): Senator Elizabeth Warren under attack at Tuesday's Democratic debate, pressed on how she'd pay for Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-All plan.

WARREN: Let me be clear on this. Costs will go up for the wealthy. They will go up for big corporations. I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle class families.

LEE: Warren's moderate rivals unsatisfied with her answer. BUTTIGIEG: Your signature, Senator, is to have a plan for everything.

Except this.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I appreciate Elizabeth's work. But, again, the difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done.

LEE: Senator Amy Klobuchar also criticizing Warren's wealth tax plan.

KLOBUCHAR: I want to give a reality check here to Elizabeth, because no one on this stage wants to protect billionaires, not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires. We just have different approaches.

LEE: The Massachusetts senator fighting back.

WARREN: But I think as Democrats, we are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard. Not when we dream small and quit before we get started.

LEE: Warren not the only candidate on stage, on their heels. Former Vice President Joe Biden defending his son Hunter's work in Ukraine in the wake of the scandal rocking Washington.

BIDEN: My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States government, in rooting out corruption in Ukraine.

LEE: Biden explaining why he believes he's Trump's target.

BIDEN: He's going after me because he knows if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum.

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LEE: Senator Sanders returning to the campaign after a heart attack, ready to move on from questions about his health.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN MODERATOR: Senator Sanders, I want to start with -- we're moving on, Senator Sanders.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm healthy and I'm feeling great, but I would like to respond to that question.

LEE: On gun control, Mayor Pete Buttigieg implying former Congressman Beto O'Rourke's mandatory buyback program is unachievable.

BUTTIGIEG: We cannot wait for purity tests. We have to just get something done.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not a purity test, this is a country that loses 40,000 of our fellow Americans every year to gun violence. This is a crisis and we've got to do something about it.

BUTTIGIEG: I don't need lessons from you on courage, political or personal. Everyone on this stage is determined to get something done.

LEE: Buttigieg also clashing with fellow combat veteran, Tulsi Gabbard, over President Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria.

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What you're saying, Mayor Pete, is that you would continue to support having U.S. troops in Syria for an indefinite period of time, to continue this regime change war.

BUTTIGIEG: What we were doing in Syria was keeping our word. This president has betrayed American values, our credibility in tatters.

LEE: But one topic all the candidates can agree on --

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to impeach this president.

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I support impeachment.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't really think this impeachment process is going to take very long, because as a former prosecutor, I know a confession when I see it.

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every candidate here is more decent, more coherent, and more patriotic than the criminal in the White House.

LEE: Senator Cory Booker again asking the field to focus on their collective goals, defeating the president.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tearing each other down because we have a different plan to me is unacceptable. I have seen this script before. It didn't work in 2016 and it will be disaster for us in 2020.

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LEE: Now, Senator Bernie Sanders walking off the debate stage last night to some great political news. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announcing she is going to be endorsing Senator Sanders. CNN has also learned that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib also plan on endorsing Senator Sanders at an upcoming rally this weekend -- John.

BERMAN: And that was the big news for Bernie Sanders.

The big news for Joe Biden after the debate, not so good, only $9 million cash on hand, which puts him well behind the other leading candidates.

MJ Lee in Ohio, thank you.

I know what you're asking, I know what everyone's asking, where's breakfast? But also, who won, who lost? And after that debate, what has changed? We have the answers for you, all of the answers, including on breakfast.

CAMEROTA: Oh, thank goodness.

BERMAN: Next.

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CAMEROTA: OK, there's obviously a lot to discuss from last night's CNN Democratic primary debate. So who are the big winners this morning?

Let's get some answers.

Joining us now, we have Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic governor of Virginia and DNC chair, and Joe Lockhart, former Clinton White House press secretary.

Governor, what did you take away from the debate? Who is the winner?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The front-runner stayed the front-runners, I think.

Pete Buttigieg, I thought, had a very good night. I thought his answer on Syria was the best five minutes of his campaign. Real contrast between Trump's erratic foreign policy and the message that he gave.

I thought Klobuchar had a very good debate, as well.

CAMEROTA: So you can't identify a single winner?

MCAULIFFE: I don't think there was a single winner. Warren went in, now as the front-runner. She got hit a lot. She's run a very good campaign.

I think she's got to answer this question. Is there going to be a middle class tax increase?

CAMEROTA: And why does she have to answer that, because what she kept saying was costs were going to come down. So, I don't care what bucket it comes from. Middle class families, your costs are going to go down.

Why isn't that good enough answer?

MCAULIFFE: Well, because I think people walked away from that when you had other candidates attacking her, are your taxes going to go up? That's a pretty basic question that people want an answer to.

So, listen, we have a long way to go. She's out. She's now the frontrunner. She's run a very good campaign, a lot of policies. We ought to explain, people want to know if my taxes will go up or not. She needs to explain it. She knew the question would be coming. I thought Bernie dealt with the age issue very well. He looked great

a week and a half after he had gone in the hospital, I thought he looked great.

Biden answered his question on Ukraine. I think Bernie helped him. Bernie moved it off, right off to the question on to something else.

So, you know, it was three hours. I think some people turned it over and watched the Washington Nationals going to the World Series.

CAMEROTA: Stay on message, Governor. Stay on message.

BERMAN: So, Joe, Elizabeth Warren, first time on stage as one of the co-front-runners here, as Governor McAuliffe was pointing out, she had to answer -- she was asked a lot of questions, she didn't necessarily answer them, but she was asked a lot of questions.

How did she handle this new moment?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I don't -- she -- except for the not answering the tax question, I think she did OK, but just OK. And it's -- we'll have to see if anyone, you know, put any dent in her armor. It is the first time that people went after her. The previous debates were going after Joe Biden and some of the second-tier candidates going after each other.

It was surprising, though, that she hasn't come up with a better formulation. I think one of the things she had hoped to do was separate herself a little bit from Bernie Sanders. Because I think she's been looking at the electability issues and Sanders is a Democratic socialist, but she didn't get to do that last night.

She's still in the, I'm with Bernie on the Medicare for All. That's something I think she'll have to do. I actually think the big winner last night were the Democrats, because they did a much better job of comparing themselves to Donald Trump. And by definition, Trump was the big loser.

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You know, again, I agree with the governor, Klobuchar -- Booker, I thought, had a good night, because he was defending all the other Democrats. And Buttigieg had a good night.

BERMAN: Maybe we can narrow it down with you two, by asking who you thought was the biggest loser?

LOCKHART: Well, I mean, I think there are some people who shouldn't have been on the stage -- Tulsi Gabbard. You know, I just don't see Tom Steyer's rationale for being in the race. And I think people are getting a little tired of Andrew Yang's, you know -- it would be great to narrow this field down.

But I would look at probably, I think Beto O'Rourke, again, once again, did not provide a rationale for why people should pay attention to him. So I would put him as a big loser. MCAULIFFE: Yes, I think the second, third-tier candidates, it was a

tough night for them because none of them broke out. Now we have a new threshold for November. You got to get 3 percent in four polls or two polls at 5 percent. The donors are up. And you're going to see four or five candidates go out.

The next debate, and I'll be honest with you, I thought it was too many candidates last night. I think it's very hard for a debate to have 12 people, to come up with a message that we're right to convey to the American public. I think the next debate will have seven or eight. I think that will be much better.

And I'll say this, for these candidates, if you couldn't break through last night, you cannot raise money. If you cannot raise money, you can't pay your staff and you cannot continue. You're going to begin to see candidates fall off and the field really begin to narrow as you go forward.

CAMEROTA: You said you really liked Pete Buttigieg's performance last night. Do you think it moves the needle? Do you think these debate performances move the needle in terms of poll for any of these candidates?

MCAULIFFE: I don't think these debate performances move the needle much for any of the candidates. I think if you made a huge blunder, it would probably hurt you.

But Pete's raising a lot of money, he has a lot of cash on hand. I think he -- I thought, it was a very good debate for him last night on a couple of the issues he talked about. I thought the debate that he and Beto went back and forth, I thought he was very tough, but I loved his Syria answer.

It was a real contrast to the incompetence of Donald Trump and what's going on in the world today and what's happening in Syria with the slaughter of the Kurds that Donald Trump -- I just thought he crystallized it.

But it will help him continue to raise some money, but these debates, they don't move the needle much. You can get hurt in these debates or you cannot break through.

LOCKHART: Listen, I think the fact that the debates do not necessarily determine is good news for Joe Biden. He's proved that debates are not his best format. His best format is retail politics and getting set piece stages.

It will be interesting to see if there's any dent in the momentum for Warren, but I think, you know, those moderate candidates who are fighting each other to be the alternative to Warren and Biden, they all had good nights. Let's see in Iowa if any of them made an impression.

BERMAN: Joe Lockhart, Governor McAuliffe, thank you very much.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we are going to speak with five of the candidates who were on that debate stage last night -- Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Congressman Beto O'Rourke will all join us to go over what they experienced last night.

CAMEROTA: We're going to need an extra hour. And luckily, we've got one.

BERMAN: We have one.

CAMEROTA: All right. President Trump is publicly dismissing the impeachment inquiry, but CNN has learned that inside the West Wing, there is frustration mounting and action being taken. We will break down the latest developments, next.

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BERMAN: All right. A flurry of new developments this morning, related to the house impeachment inquiry.

A State Department official has reportedly testified that he was told to lay low after complaining about Rudy Giuliani's efforts to undermine U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. The acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, then allegedly took the lead in dictating who would oversee the Ukraine relationship. And there were reports that Mulvaney was directly responsible from withholding funds from Ukraine.

CNN has also learned that a grand jury has subpoenaed a former Republican congressman on matters connected to Giuliani and two associates who were arrested trying to leave the country last week. "The Journal" and CNN have reported that Rudy Giuliani himself is under investigation. And that adds more weight to that reality.

Joe Lockhart is back with us. I want to bring in John Avlon, CNN senior political analyst.

And, John, I know you have some new insight into Giuliani world, which we'll get to in a second, but I want to start with big picture, if I can, Joe, which is if you look at all of this, especially, starting with the State Department official who said he issued these warnings months and months and months ago about the shadow foreign policy, but was told to lay low. From there to the phone call the president made, you see this months-long effort at this alternate foreign policy that isn't American foreign policy. And it seems that we're learning more and more and more about that every day.

LOCKHART: Yes, you're filling in the blanks on what is not a rogue Rudy Giuliani going around Ukraine, saying he represents the president. You're going to find that a lot, of people saying that.

What's interesting here is it's now ensnaring the top staff people. You see Mick Mulvaney now directly in the bull's-eye, as a main player here.

[05:25:02] The president's chief of staff sanctioning a foreign policy that's not for our national security and America's interests, but the president's personal interests, his present political interest. And I think the Democrats are doing a very good job of bringing this in and telling the story piece by piece by piece, building every day out with new pieces of information. And it gets worse every single day.

CAMEROTA: Some of the reporting is that Mick Mulvaney looked into whether or not the freezing of the millions of dollars of military funds to Ukraine would be illegal, somehow, and found that it wasn't. It was going to be fine. I'm not sure he did enough due diligence.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Mick Mulvaney was told there would be no math.

Look, what we keep finding is a pattern of the president's -- people around the president acting in ways that they indicate that they knew something was off, they knew something was wrong, with regard specifically to the Ukraine.

And keep in mind that Ukraine is not exactly a global hot spot that needs a second-tier system. This is something that is primarily of interest to Russia. It's a longtime ally for the U.S. with a deep corruption problem.

So this kind of unilateral focus, not simply Rudy Giuliani digging for dirt, but -- or even in the context of the Mueller report, which is what Rudy Giuliani might tell you. This is on behalf of his client during the context of the Mueller report. But the White House and the president's interest in this seems to be much deeper and much more sustained. But the question, as always is, who benefits.

BERMAN: I think the allegations from the beginning and the concerns raised by Kent who testified yesterday, Yovanovitch who testified last week, Fiona Hill who testified Monday, was that they were suggesting the beneficiary here was the president, and not America.

AVLON: Yes.

BERMAN: That's the concern that's been raised. As more and more testimony comes out, it shows the breadth of this, the length of time, and the depth of it, which is a lot of people. And that brings us to Rudy Giuliani here, who, again, when you read "The Wall Street Journal" and the other reporting from CNN and others, he's in a world of trouble.

I mean, the Southern District of New York is investigating him, a criminal investigation into his actions, including looking into his bank accounts, to figure out where the money was coming from, to be involved in all of this.

And, John, you have some insight in what might be going on on planet Rudy?

AVLON: Look, planet Rudy, I like that. As you all know, I worked for Rudy for a long period of time. Rudy believes that he is not in any danger. He didn't do anything

wrong, there was no lobbying. He did. He believes everything he did was motivated by the work for his client, the president of the United States, allegedly unpaid work, I might add, and of patriotism.

I think the problem is, is that you've got a preponderance of facts and probably too much dependence upon too shady characters, Igor and Lev, who seem to be at the heart of this, and finding out that, for example, the money they were funneling through came directly from a Russian-backed Ukrainian oligarch.

There's a lot of bad news here. I think among the bad news is that yesterday he split with his longtime personal friend and more recently attorney, John Sail, who had been representing him, decided to Heisman the subpoena request from Congress. That's not a good look for somebody. And being under investigation by the Southern District, when you've led the Southern District famously in busting corruption, taking on the mob, I'll be it three decades ago, Rudy's in a bit of a vice. And it's very clear he doesn't have a lot of allies inside the White House, inside the State Department, inside the administration.

CAMEROTA: Joe, we only have a few seconds. When are Democrats going to feel they have enough evidence to move forward?

LOCKHART: I think the calendar is going to dictate that more than anything. I don't think the Democrats want to take this much past the Thanksgiving holiday. I think they have enough now to move forward with articles of impeachment. But they are collecting the kind of information that makes the case very, very strong and very difficult for the president, Rudy, Mick Mulvaney and all the rest.

BERMAN: How do you slow down when the information is coming out like a fire hose right now? It's not a drip, drip, drip, it's a massive spray.

LOCKHART: But they do want to get this done.

BERMAN: All right. Joe, John, thank you very much.

There is other news developing this morning. The vice president of the United States is headed to Turkey to try to stop the military offensive that was launched after the president decided to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria. We'll give you a report from the ground, next.

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