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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 6-6:30a ET

Aired October 16, 2019 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A tough welcome to frontrunner status for Elizabeth Warren.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to give a reality check. No one on this stage wants to protect billionaires.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I went on the floor and got you votes.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am deeply grateful to President Obama.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't need lessons from you on courage. Political or personal.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The evidence of obstruction of Congress continues to mount.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): House Democrats have wasted no time throwing fairness and precedent to the wind.

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


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

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is a special edition of NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, October 16. It's 6 a.m. here in New York. A different political world and a very different Democratic debate.

This morning Elizabeth Warren knows what it feels like to be a frontrunner. Joe Biden knows what it's like to face questions about his son, Hunter, on a debate stage.

Bernie Sanders knows what it's like to debate after a heart attack. Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar know what it's like to seize the spotlight. And we saw it all.

We have analysis from all the best experts, and we will hear from the candidates themselves all morning long. Plus, the big headlines that happened for Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden after the debate.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. There are also developments in the impeachment inquiry. There is mounting frustration reportedly inside the White House this morning over administration witnesses providing potentially damaging testimony to impeachment investigators.

On Tuesday, a State Department official testified he was told to, quote, "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 told energy secretary -- told the energy secretary, Rick Perry, and Kurt Volker, and E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland, put them in charge of Ukraine policy. Sondland is set to testify tomorrow, so that will be interesting.

Also, CNN has learned that former Republican Congressman Pete Sessions has been subpoenaed by a grand jury on matters connected to Rudy Giuliani and those two associates who were arrested last week.

So there's a lot to get to. Let's begin with the Democratic debate. M.J. Lee is joining us live from Westerville, Ohio. Give us all the highlights, M.J.

M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This was a fiery debate last night here in Westerville, Ohio. And we saw one of the clearest signs yet that Senator Elizabeth Warren is seen as a frontrunner in the Democratic race for president. She tried to deflect criticism coming at her all night from all directions.


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

KLOBUCHAR: 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 -- 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 -- if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum.

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

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Sanders, I want to start. We're moving on.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm healthy and 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 proposal is unachievable.

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

O'ROURKE: 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. 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 is in tatters. LEE: But one topic all the candidates can agree on --

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


HARRIS: 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 goal: 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.


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

CAMEROTA: Yes. Those are very interesting developments. M.J., thank you so much.

So Elizabeth Warren repeatedly was attacked by her rivals for the first time last night. So we'll break down the big winners and losers next.



BERMAN: There is so much to discuss from last night's Democratic primary debate. This was really the first time we've had a debate since the impeachment investigation began, since Bernie Sanders had a heart attack, since all the questions about Joe Biden. A different world.

Joining us now to talk about it, Terry McAuliffe, former Democratic governor of Virginia and former Democratic Party chairman; and David Gregory, CNN political analyst.

David, you're just waking up to join us, to join the fun this morning. Besides the American people, who won last night?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think what it establishes is that Elizabeth Warren is really emerging as the frontrunner in the Democratic race. I do agree that Joe Biden seemed to fade.

I actually thought -- I thought Warren was strong, but then I thought there were a compilation of moderates, you know, more moderate than her. Buttigieg, Klobuchar who actually did very well. To me, there was not a clear winner, other than this perception on the stage that everybody had to go after her.

CAMEROTA: Who stood out to you, Governor?

TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: Well, I thought it was a good night. First of all, let me say for the Democrats, I think the whole issue around Ukraine has united the Democratic Party. I mean, you saw all the candidates coming together last night. Trump has really unified us, like I haven't seen our party in a very, very long time.

So with the issue of Ukraine and impeachment. But listen, I thought Pete Buttigieg had a good night. I thought Amy Klobuchar had a good night. The frontrunners did what they had to do. I thought Bernie looked very good, a man who had just had a heart attack. And a week and a half later, he's up on the stage. I thought he looked great. Biden did what he had to do on the issues of Ukraine.

CAMEROTA: And when you say did what he had to do, do you mean that he didn't hurt himself, but he didn't help himself?

MCAULIFFE: When you're a frontrunner, you don't want to hurt yourself up on the stage. You want to continue to be the frontrunner. You want to be able to continue to go out and raise money.

And I think, you know, listen, Elizabeth Warren took out a lot of incoming last night. She's run a very good campaign, a lot of policy. I think she's got to do a better job of answering the issue of the middle class going to pay more taxes with Medicare for all. She's got to deal with that issue. I think it's very important.

BERMAN: She doesn't answer it. She's got to answer it.

MCAULIFFE: She has to answer it.

GREGORY: I disagree with you a little bit, Terry. I think for Democrats to be united against Trump is no great cause for celebration. I don't think that's a huge accomplishment.

I think there's a huge ideological rift in the party about the role of government and the economy. About the role of taxes, health care. And I think that is what's in evidence here. And it's really -- and I think if Trump -- and he'll find his voice on this. If he could make a stronger ideological argument against the Democrats, it would be very problematic for the prospects for Democrats next year. And I think he'll try to do that. But he's got so much other stuff

that makes him both a target and gives him some offensive opportunity. But that ideological rift is what I think plays out strongly.

BERMAN: With Pete Buttigieg, Mayor Pete, who last night a lot of people thought had his best performance, or strongest performance. Or certainly, the most in the spotlight so far.


BERMAN: Was he trying to address that? Play chess here. When he was going after Warren, was it really Warren voters he was after or was it Biden voters he was after?

GREGORY: I think -- well, I think it's -- I think it's both. I don't think he's going -- he's not as progressive as she is on some of these big issues. But I think she's trying to be an alternative to Biden. He's got enough progressive bone fides.

And I think it was a strong performance. I think some people could look at him and think he was pressing a little bit. But I thought he was strong. I mean, he can't just be smart. You've got to be forceful up there. You've got to -- you've got to force these issues.

And -- and I think he forced Biden to look, to your point, Terry, yes, a frontrunner in some ways. But some -- it's not just cautious. He looks like he's fading. He doesn't look as sharp on these issues. And I thought -- we'll get to this, but on the impeachment question, I just don't think he was good enough on that.

CAMEROTA: Who do you think struggled?

MCAULIFFE: I think it was a tough night. I think Beto had a tough night last night.

But listen, I think for the second and third tier, they didn't do what they need to do. We're now going to go to a new standard for the next debate in November. And I think four or five are now going to drop off. It's going to be a smaller stage in November.

And so I think, for the other candidates, you just run out of money at some point, Alisyn. And that's what's going to happen going forward.

But I go back to the point, what Democrats want to do, they want to nominate. They want to beat Donald Trump. By far, that is what sits out there. And we will come together. I disagree a little bit with David. I think the ideological issues will be put aside as we get closer, smaller debates.

This is about beating Donald Trump. And 92 million people did not vote in 2016. Did not show up and exercise their right to vote. Many of them are going to show up in 2020.


BERMAN: Why didn't you think Biden did a good enough job on the impeachment questions?

GREGORY: I just think, you know, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think he faces a real question about his judgment, about Hunter being in the middle of this Ukraine thicket. At the time when it was a big issue then. I mean, it stinks now.

BERMAN: Is it Joe Biden's judgment, what Hunter Biden did?

GREGORY: Yes, I agree. I think it is his judgment. The guy was making $50,000 a month on a board, because he's the vice president's son?

Joe Biden knows that that was bad judgment, and it looks even worse now. And I just don't think it's going to be good enough to say, well, he addressed that and there was nothing wrong. That can be true. I'm not saying that -- I'm not making an equivalency to what we're dealing with here. We ought to be able to assess that, and voters will assess that and separate it from Donald Trump's business.

CAMEROTA: I heard so many Democrats say why don't the Democrats say look at what Donald Trump's children are doing. But somehow, that's not a winning argument for them, because that's not --

GREGORY: Well, that is a fair -- but that's been brought up. We bring that up. Other people. I mean, we can bring up all these things at once without -- without --

CAMEROTA: You think Joe Biden should have said that?

GREGORY: Well, yes. I think that would be good. But even that is like, his kids are doing that, too? Is that the standard that Democrats have? I don't think that's right.

CAMEROTA: That's my point.


CAMEROTA: That's why they're caught in not being able to say that. Because they don't want to use Donald Trump as the bar. But then it seems like these kids are skating.

GREGORY: I think these are legitimate questions. People can decide whether it's disqualifying in any way.

But the idea is, like, well, he wasn't doing anything wrong. There are some questions about why he was making that much money.

Again, just because Donald Trump says it doesn't automatically make it wrong. There's an emphasis on it that I think is misguided without evidence, that somehow there was rampant corruption. But the fact that it was going on deserves scrutiny.

BERMAN: All right. Terry McAuliffe, David Gregory.

MCAULIFFE: Whoa. Let's not end this without -- let's shout out the Nationals going to the World Series. GREGORY: Thank you, Terry.

CAMEROTA: You feel strongly about that.

MCAULIFFE: Let's get on the game, Jack. That is the news of last night.

BERMAN: The Washington fans are terrific, and I'm thrilled for both of you.

GREGORY: What does that mean, Washington fans are terrific? I felt that was like Elizabeth Warren saying thanks to Barack Obama.

BERMAN: I think the cost will go down. The cost will go down.

CAMEROTA: I didn't anticipate this being the most heated part of the conversation.

GREGORY: Exactly.

BERMAN: As long as someone beats the Yankees.

CAMEROTA: Governor, David, thank you very much.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we'll speak with five of the candidates on the debate stage last night. Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Congressman Beto O'Rourke.

BERMAN: All right. New revelations from a State Department official testifying in the impeachment inquiry. What he says happened when he spoke out about Rudy Giuliani's far-flung month-long foreign policy. That's next.



CAMEROTA: It's been another eventful 24 hours in the impeachment inquiry. A State Department official has reportedly testified that he was told to, quote, "lay low" after complaining about Rudy Giuliani's efforts to undermine U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine.

Then acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney reportedly took the lead in dictating who would oversee the Ukrainian relationship.

CNN has also learned that a grand jury has subpoenaed former GOP Congressman Pete Sessions over matters connected to Giuliani and his two associates, who were arrested trying to leave the country last week.

There's a lot to talk about. Let's bring back David Gregory, CNN political analyst.

There's so much happening every day, David. So let's talk about how -- I mean, Giuliani is in trouble. It sure looks like it. More is happening. He seems to be the center of the wheel. GREGORY: Right.

CAMEROTA: And all roads are leading back to him being in trouble at the moment.

And some of these -- some of the subpoenas, how it all adds up, how it all fits together isn't clear. Except that the specter of illegal corruption that close to the president when Giuliani seems to have so much influence over foreign policy decisions that were being made.

And to me I come back to where is the abuse of power that would be impeachment? Holding up the money for Ukraine, is there an influence on that? Is there documentation and testimony around that? As well as a portfolio including, you know, the cleric and other aspects where Giuliani's outside lobbying actually goes beyond, hey, you should do this, because lobbying is not illegal. But to where there is a shot of foreign policy and that he's leading it.

BERMAN: Lobbying is very illegal if you're not registered as a lobbyist. Because Giuliani never did. And that may be one of the issues here.

And Giuliani's got clear legal, perhaps, criminal issues right now that we've learned from this grand jury subpoena that's coming out. It's separate but related. How it's related -- and I do think we're getting a picture now of how everything is connected.

You have this effort going back months and months and months and months to create an alternate shadow foreign policy in regards to Ukraine. The question is why.


BERMAN: And you see a pattern of career government officials, diplomats, with long careers, objecting because they felt it wasn't in the national interests that this shadow foreign policy was for personal political gain.

You have George Kent testifying yesterday. You have Fiona Hill testifying on Monday. You had the ambassador -- former Ambassador Yovanovitch testifying last week. So that's the pattern here. And that may be -- or the question will be, is that an abuse of power.

If you're conducting foreign policy outside of the realm of the government for your own political gain, is that an abuse of power?

GREGORY: I think it is. And I think if it's specifically to engage a foreign power to investigate a political opponent and tying something like critical foreign security aid to an ally.


If you're holding that up to -- to extract that promise to dig up dirt on a political opponent, I think there's no question. As we discussed yesterday, it's not just these career diplomats, there are some political appointees. mise to dig up dirt on a political mise to dig up dirt on a political

opponent, I think there's no question. And I think, as we discussed yesterday, it's not just these career diplomats who are important, but there are some political appointees like Fiona Hill who worked for the president and said, no, that's not right.

And that's why there's been so much talk about John Bolton. And what's he going to have to say about this, because I think the president has amassed quite a group here. You can't just dismiss it as the bureaucracy who could be ideologically against him. No, he's got a wide swath of people saying this was really outside of the bounds here.

CAMEROTA: In terms of Mick Mulvaney's role, we have a little bit more information about that from "The Washington Post." Here's the quote. "When some in the White House questioned the legality of blocking funds to Ukraine, funds approved by Congress to help fend off Russian attacks on its sovereignty, U.S. officials said Mulvaney told staff that he had determined that the money could be turned on and off with no legal consequence."

Well, as we talked about in the last hour, I'm not sure he did all of his due diligence in terms of the political consequence of this.

GREGORY: Well, not only that, but I mean, you have the chief of staff, you know, making legal decisions, which should be of concern to people.

The fact that there was a cutout, that they said, look, we're going to have certain people who are going to cut out just to work on the issue of Ukraine. I mean, it's not like it's some select group in the White House to deal with a major existential threat that arises like on 9/11.

No, this is to say we've got this little project over here that Rudy Giuliani's running. And we've got Bill Barr and others, potentially, involved. And we're going to, you know, assign a team to it. It really looks like it was separated. And it looks like it was purely about getting to the bottom of -- of political dirt to help the president and everything was tied to that.

And we know the larger picture, too, is the extent to which the president will investigate Mueller. And by the way, what he's doing now, investigating the whistle-blower himself. I mean, that's the part.

BERMAN: Look, I've wondered for the last three weeks since we had the phone conversation, the transcript, what will you learn more from all these. But I think now we know. We know that it wasn't just the phone call from the president. We know the months that led up to it, including the series of objections, and that may lend credence to questions about abuse of power.

GREGORY: And -- and the whistle-blower would seem like a pretty fulsome complaint is now being borne out by people who are testifying.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory, thank you very much. Great to have you here.

All right. So Vice President Pence heads to Turkey today. He's seeking a cease-fire to the fighting that began when President Trump pulled U.S. troops out of that region. So we have a live report, next.