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Ambassador Bill Taylor to Testify in Impeachment Inquiry Tomorrow; Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) Discusses the impeachment inquiry, Ukraine, Mulvaney Backtracking on Quid Pro Quo; Warren Commits to Release Plan on Paying for Medicare-for-All; Last-Minute Deal Averts Start of Landmark Opioid Trial; Powerful Tornado Leaves Over 100,000 without Power in Dallas. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 21, 2019 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Any moment now, President Trump will meet with his cabinet at the White House. Reporters will head in and we'll bring the headlines as they come out. It is the first cabinet meeting, of course, since House Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry into the president.

And this week is another busy week of testimony on Capitol Hill. Appearing tomorrow is a top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, who has found himself at the center of the investigation as he's the man on the text messages questioning whether a quid pro quo was happening.

In one message writing, quote, "I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help for a political campaign." The other ambassador replying hours later.

And in another asking, "Are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations?"

So what are the questions that Bill Taylor is now going to face.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman, from California, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, thank you for being here.

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA): Thank you.

BOLDUAN: What do you want to ask Bill Taylor?

SHERMAN: Frankly, I won't be asking Bill Taylor anything. We leave it to the attorneys, the investigatory attorneys to ask the question.

I think it's also important for your viewers not to think that all we're doing is focusing on impeachment. Our committee is having important hearings on Kashmir tomorrow. And the next day, we have Mark Zuckerberg before the Financial Services Committee to discuss Zuckerberg's efforts to create a new currency and, thus, meet the needs of tax evaders, sanction evaders and drug dealers. So --


BOLDUAN: I don't think -- do you want to leave the impression that you're not involved at all or you don't have any questions you want answered from Bill Taylor?


BOLDUAN: Other members of Congress have sat in on these meetings.


BOLDUAN: I've talked to them and they've asked questions. What do you want to know from him? Let me phrase it that way.

SHERMAN: Let's put it this way. I have enough information. I will sit in on the meetings because it's historic. But the public testimony is everything you need. You have the transcript. You have the chief of staff's statements.

It's obvious that the president of the United States was trying to force the Ukraine to help his political campaign. That's a request for an illegal multimillion-dollar-worth contribution from a foreign power, a clear violation of our law, just another one of Trump's many high crimes and misdemeanors.

I filed articles of impeachment in June of 2017 over obstruction of justice and the felonies committee committed there. I have enough information on this. This adds more and more.

The viewers should not think that all we're doing is focusing on impeachment. We have 435 members of Congress. We are all doing a variety of things.

BOLDUAN: After the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, acknowledged a quid pro quo on Thursday during a press conference, he defended himself in a statement afterward but also -- he defended himself this way yesterday. Listen to this.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: One of the things you, again, said a few second ago that I said there was a quid pro quo. I never used that language. Because there is not a quid pro quo.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You were asked you described a quid pro quo and you said that happens all the time.

MULVANEY: And, again, reporters will use their language all the time. My language never said quid pro quo.

Let's get to the heart of the matter. Look at that list of three things. What was I talking about? Things that it's legitimate for the president to do.


BOLDUAN: Did Mick Mulvaney clear things up for you at all? Do you understand his positioning? I know your position on impeachment already. Do you understand his position, what he was defending yesterday?

SHERMAN: Yes. He said that he admitted the president committed a crime in English and didn't use Latin. "Quid pro quo" is Latin. He made it easier. He said it in English. He said that we were holding back the money. And one of the things we were demanding is that the administration of the Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son. It's even more clear when you say it in English than when you say it in Latin.

BOLDUAN: As you've mentioned, you've been calling for the president's impeachment for two years, since 2017. I do wonder then what is your pitch then to Republicans that now is when you really mean it and now is when they should really join you?


SHERMAN: I think they're particularly concerned about our foreign policy toward the Ukraine and standing up to Russia. That being said, I think it's just a one handful of Republicans who are seriously considering voting for impeachment.

I think what will matter more than this or that testimony -- because, my god, we have mountains and mountains of testimony -- is what the reaction is --


BOLDUAN: When you see a Republican like Francis Rooney come out and is voicing real concern about what he's seeing, troubling what's come up so far saying he's looking forward to, among others, Bill Taylor's testimony tomorrow, does that give you, I don't know, hope?

SHERMAN: Very little. Mr. Rooney is not running for reelection. He was part of my handful, as is Senator Romney. And that still leaves two or three others to be named later just to be handful.

At this stage, unless there's a shift in Republican opinion -- and there may be. So I would say that if you want to predict what my Republican colleagues are going to do, continue your efforts at polling, particularly Republicans, and you'll get the answer more quickly than I will talking to them on the floor.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for coming in.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Still ahead for us, Elizabeth Warren has a plan, or at least she says she is working on one, in terms of a plan to finally explain how she's going to pay for her Medicare-for-All proposal. Will it be enough to stop the criticism and really the attacks that are coming from her fellow Democrats? That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be putting out a plan that talks specifically about the costs of Medicare-for-All and how we can pay for it. But this much I promise to you, I will not sign a bill into law that does not reduce the cost of health care for a middle-class family.


BOLDUAN: That is presidential candidate, Senator Elizabeth Warren, in Iowa, saying how she's going to lay out how she'll plan for her Medicare-for-All plan. Why is that a big deal? She's been asked that question time and time again and has dodged it every time. And her fellow Democratic candidates called her out once and for all from the debate stage last week. Watch.


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

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I'm sorry, Elizabeth. You have not said that. I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we're going to send the invoice.



BOLDUAN: Joining me right now, CNN's senior Washington correspondent, Jeff Zeleny, and CNN political correspondent, M.J. Lee.

M.J., what are you hearing from the Warren campaign on why she is releasing this now? Did the pressure become too much?

M.J. LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Kate, this is a significant development coming from the Warren campaign. On the issue of health care, Elizabeth Warren wanted no daylight between herself and Bernie Sanders.

This is a candidate who has had a plan for every topic that you can think of. But on the issue of health care, she has said that she is with Bernie when it comes to Medicare-for-All and that she's not going to put out a health care plan of her own.

But I think we saw her run into some trouble when she started getting a lot of questions about how exactly she plans on paying for it and particularly on the question of whether Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for- All plan would raise taxes on the middle class.

To be clear, and this is really important, Bernie Sanders himself has come out and said, yes, some taxes likely will go up under my plan. But for Warren, she has sort of repeatedly avoided answering that question, and instead talking about the total cost going down for the average American.

I think last week at the CNN/"New York Times" debate is where we saw this become politically untenable for Warren as many of her rivals started really piling on her and asking the question over and over again, will middle class taxes go up or not.

And so I think, her announcement yesterday, we sort of saw hints that may be coming when her campaign emphasized that she has been studying other revenue options in addition to what Bernie Sanders has detailed out in his plan.

And I think the announcement yesterday sort of allows her to continue being for Medicare-for-All but putting her own twist on it and hopefully -- she hopes to put out a better answer to the question of, how will you pay for this plan.

BOLDUAN: Or those calls for her calling her out for not answering won't get quieter, especially from one Senator named Amy Klobuchar.

Jeff, you've been traveling in Iowa following Senator Klobuchar. She was one of the most outspoken from the debate stage, applying pressure on Warren on this. You can tell she has her eyes on Warren. What is Klobuchar saying?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Kate, there's no question about that. At every stop that Amy Klobuchar had over a weekend visit in Iowa, she talked about honesty and how it's important for Democratic candidates to be honest with voters, to speak the truth about how they will be paying for their plans.


I lost count of how many times she said the word "honest." She said, now I'm not comparing them to President Trump, but they've not been honest with you. She's talking about Elizabeth Warren and a little bit Bernie Sanders. Voters were responding to that, at least at these events that Amy Klobuchar had.

Take a listen to what she said after she heard that Senator Warren is finally coming out with her own plan.


KLOBUCHAR: Well, I would like to see how she's going to pay for it. I'm surprised that we haven't seen it yet because, you know, I think, if she had a good answer, we would have seen it by now. I look forward to seeing it.


ZELENY: So that certainly is -- Senator Klobuchar there not going to sit by quietly and wait for the answer to come. But really, the criticism is coming from Amy Klobuchar, Pete

Buttigieg, Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, and others here. So this is an interesting moment for the Warren campaign.

I was in Iowa yesterday with Senator Warren when she made that announcement for the first time. When I talked to her supporters, Warren supporters, they believe in Elizabeth Warren, no questions about it.

But, Kate, it's those undecided voters who are still trying to sort through all these complicated issues. So if this message breaks through that Senator Warren is not being forthcoming, that could be an issue for her.

But we should point out, she still has a very strong campaign there in Iowa. She's a co-frontrunner at the very least with Joe Biden -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: There are a lot of voters on undecided.

ZELENY: Right.

BOLDUAN: And a lot of those voters who are not 100 percent committed to even their first choice right now.

ZELENY: For sure.

BOLDUAN: This is and could be one of those defining issues.

Jeff, M.J., thanks, guys.

ZELENY: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Just into CNN, a major settlement announced at the very last minute in the first major opioid case. Four drug companies reaching a deal with two counties in Ohio for $235 million. What that means for the victims of this crisis and the drug companies accused of fueling it.

We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: A massive new settlement has put the brakes on a much- anticipated opioid federal trial, and even a deal of more than $200 million for two counties in Ohio. Even with that deal, it doesn't mean this whole thing is over.

Joining me now is CNN's Alexandra Field. She has more on this.

What's fascinating, talk about a deal at the last minute. It was at the last minute that they reached a settlement.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, maybe the 11th hour or beyond that. They came to it in the middle of the night just hours before this trial was set to start. Three drug distributors, one drug manufacturer reaching a major settlement, averting this a major trial.

This is a landmark case. It's taking place in Ohio. Cuyahoga and Summit Counties had brought the lawsuits against these drug companies. In the end, the settlement, over $200 million. These three companies have settled the breakdown, that three will pay some $215 million, the fourth will pay another $20 million.

But what does this all mean? Well, this resolved the claims for those two counties in Ohio. Don't forget, this is part of a much bigger federal case that involves 2700 claims from communities across the country.

You have four states attorney general who are coming out now and saying this settlement in Ohio is a good step, but they are looking to achieve a global resolution that would deal with many or all of these claims.

BOLDUAN: Oh, my gosh. And you have Walgreens separate litigation who is part of all of this. Complex, confusing. But a settlement today and it means there's much more to come.

Good to see you, Alexandra.

FIELD: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.

Still ahead for us, a powerful tornado causing widespread damage across north Texas, including in and around Dallas. More than 100,000 people left without power now. Look at that damage. We'll go live to the ground. That's next.



BOLDUAN: Daylight now revealing the scope of the damage left behind in Texas today after a tornado tore through the city. High winds also knocked out power to more than 100,000 customers.

Ed Lavandera joins me on the phone from Dallas with more on this.

Ed, you've been up and around. What have you been seeing, what have you been hearing from folks?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): It's a staggering scene across the city, from the heavily densely populated area of northwest Dallas all the way into northeast Dallas.

This tornado spans more than 12 hours on the ground, carving just really staggering damage. Considering how physically small this tornado was, Kate, it has damaged all across the city.

And now that the sun has come up, we're really starting to get a bigger grasp and a fuller grasp of just how devastating the damage has been in business areas, in residential neighborhoods. This is a densely populated area.

And made all the more terrifying because, Kate, this tornado struck at night, it was dark. The only time you could really see exactly what was going on was during the flashes of lightning that would light up the funnel cloud of this tornado.

So a staggering and frightening scene. And now this city is having to clean up this extensive damage.

BOLDUAN: Ed, what are you hearing in terms of when the power is going to be able to get back on and what folks are going to be doing today?

LAVANDERA: Well, today is all about cleanup. The amazing thing here is no one was killed, no severe injuries. But there are 100,000 people without power and that work is already underway to try to restore that as quickly as possible.

BOLDUAN: From the images we can see from up above and on the ground, so thankful there weren't the injuries we normally would fear after something like this.


Thank you, Ed. Thank you so much. Ed Lavandera, on the ground in Dallas. He'll be there throughout the day.

Thank you guys so much for joining me today.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.