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Republicans Slower to Defend Trump; Warren to Release Medicare for All Funding Plan in Coming Weeks; Duke and Duchess of Sussex Announce Break from Royal Duties. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 21, 2019 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right. With the impeachment inquiry entering a critical new stretch, we're now learning that President Trump's Republican support may not be as ironclad as he says it is.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: There is a growing chorus of frustrations, albeit a small one, following the White House's handling of Ukraine and Syria decisions, as well as the decision and then reversal to hold the G7 summit at the president's personal resort.

But are these just small setbacks or the start of a bigger trend?

HARLOW: With us now, "Washington Post" White House reporter and CNN political analyst Toluse Olorunnipa. Good morning to you, Toluse.

I don't know, what do you think this all means? Because there's Francis Rooney in the last few days, but he's not running again. We saw how forthcoming people like Jeff Flake were when they weren't running again. But then, you know, there's Mitt Romney, there's Lindsey Graham. Where are we in terms of Republican cracks?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's obviously a lot of angst within the Republican caucus about President Trump, whether it's about his Ukraine policy, what he's currently being impeached over, or his Syria policy, which Republicans have been very vocal in condemning and saying that the president made the wrong move in abandoning the Kurds in Syria.

HARLOW: I mean, even McConnell's op-ed, right? That's a big deal.

OLORUNNIPA: Yes. That's right. It's really all of these things coming together, even the Doral decision. The Republicans have grown weary of having to defend the president on so many different fronts. They told him as much over the weekend, and that's part of the reason he decided to pull back on this Doral G7 decision.

But it's clear that Republicans are not rushing to defend the president. A lot of them are avoiding reporters or trying to find kind of verbal jiu-jitsu to try to figure out how to explain what the president is doing without defending what the president has done. And they've just grown tired of having to spend day-in and day-out defending a president over things that they would have condemned a Democratic president for doing.

So there are some cracks beginning to show. But the president does still have his caucus behind him. They haven't abandoned him en masse yet. But the fact that there are Republicans who feel more comfortable condemning the president or saying that he did something wrong, is a sign that the president is watching very closely.

We're told that the president has been watching Republicans' comments about impeachment and he's following it very closely, and that's part of the reason he made that decision on Doral recently.

SCIUTTO: But what hasn't changed is this. Is that if you're a Republican and you've got a primary coming up in the 2020 cycle, if you publicly challenge this president, you're in trouble.


SCIUTTO: Now, the math may be different for swing state Republican senators who have to run a statewide race, and therefore have to appeal to a broader electorate. But unless that dynamic changes, you're not going to see significant exodus from the president, are, you? I mean, is there any evidence of that?

OLORUNNIPA: Yes, that's exactly right. And the president knows that. He knows that he has high ratings among his Republicans base, and he's used that somewhat as a cudgel against Republicans to try to keep them in line.

But what you are seeing is the Republicans who normally have defended the president, rushed to his defense and hewed very close to him on other issues, on this, they're just staying silent. And this is something the president is noticing as well, that not are -- the Republicans aren't necessarily coming out and, you know, saying the president was wrong or that he should be impeached. They're saying that they're thinking about impeachment. We're just seeing a handful of Republicans in that camp.

But what we're seeing more regularly are Republicans who are avoiding reporters or just staying silent, not giving the president that kind of robust defense that he is seeking. And he even said on Twitter, earlier this morning, that Republicans should get together and fight. He wants a tougher Republican caucus that's more unified in fighting against impeachment. And he hasn't gotten that.

And one of the reasons is that Republicans don't find what he's done defensible, they don't agree that his call with the Ukrainian president was perfect and they're trying to figure out a way to navigate in a circumstance where the president demands loyalty.

HARLOW: Toluse, thank you. We appreciate it. We'll keep watching.

OLORUNNIPA: Thank you.

[10:34:12] HARLOW: All right. So if you missed it or you didn't listen to this podcast, you probably read the headlines. Hillary Clinton, with a pretty shocking claim that Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is being groomed by the Russians. But she didn't offer up any evidence of that. And instead of hurting Gabbard's campaign, could this controversy actually help her?


HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. Senator Elizabeth Warren, enjoying and dealing with frontrunner-ish status --


HARLOW: -- in the Democratic nomination because, you know, she took a lot of arrows on that debate stage, and now a lot of questions about how she's going to pay for her Medicare for All plan.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Questions she didn't answer --


SCIUTTO: -- during the debate.

Just last hour, Senator Michael Bennet, he went further. He told me Warren is not being honest, she's misleading voters about those costs.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think she's not being honest about her plan.

It hasn't been explained to the American people. It's a sound bite. And more than that, it doesn't -- it's not based on common sense.


SCIUTTO: CNN's political director David Chalian joins us now. And, David, fair criticism, is it not? I mean, Senator Bennet made the point that the cost of this plan would encompass 70 percent of the tax revenues for the country over the next 10 years, I believe it is. So she's got to answer that question, does she not?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. I mean, I think that was sort of laid bare at the debate stage -- on the debate stage last Tuesday, when everybody sort of was coming at her, that it wasn't going to be a tenable position for her to maintain all the way through this nomination process, in not explaining to the American people specifically what he health care plan does and how, of course, she can pay for it and how it's affordable.


And so that's why you heard Senator Warren say, yesterday, she is indeed going to reveal, in a few weeks, how she plans to pay for Medicare for All. And that is a huge turnaround, guys, from where she's been in the entirety of this campaign.


CHALIAN: Remember, she just has sort of been with, I'm with Bernie, and wanted to leave it there. But clearly, that wasn't sustainable.

HARLOW: What -- Chalian, what I thought was so interesting, at least from the reporting I read about that town hall, where she said this, is no one asked her about it.


HARLOW: And she was, like, waiting for the question. No one asked. So at the end, she offered up, and by the way, I've got a payment for that plan that I have.

Here's how one voter -- I believe this is a woman from Virginia, I was reading about her this morning -- here's what she wants to know from Warren.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really what to know, where is the money coming from? All the other issues seem to have a solution, a solid solution. But this one in particular, she seems to not have a solid answer.


HARLOW: Pete Buttigieg, taking aim at her yesterday on this network, saying, you know, better not use pay (ph) (inaudible). So, you know, how does this play out for her?

CHALIAN: Yes. And remember, that voter that our colleague Leyla Santiago was talking to there, Friday in Virginia, that's somebody showing up to a Warren event, right?

HARLOW: I know.

CHALIAN: That's somebody favorable. So obviously, what that, I think, indicates is that in the white-hot spotlight of that debate stage last night, this being such -- last week, this being such a focus, even people showing up to her events were having that question.

You said she didn't get the question last night in Iowa, but she clearly wanted to deliver the news --


CHALIAN: -- that this is coming and she wanted to start paving the path for that. And that -- you were right to note, Poppy, that has not stopped Amy Klobuchar, as -- you just interviewed Michael Bennet, or Pete Buttigieg or the Biden campaign, which calls it mystifying, they put out a statement that she's now caving to the pressure and hasn't released this information prior to fielding all this pressure.

SCIUTTO: All right, David. We have a battle now, very much in public, between Hillary Clinton -- the former secretary of state, of course, former presidential candidate -- and Tulsi Gabbard. Clinton, making an unfounded comment that Gabbard's a Russian asset here. And now Gabbard, tweeting back. "It's now clear this primary's between you and me," clearly relishing the attention.

I mean, is this a sideshow or is there something substantive to this and does this give new live to Gabbard's campaign?

CHALIAN: Well, if there's something truly substantive, Hillary Clinton didn't offer that up in this podcast interview that she did with the former Obama campaign manager and advisor David Plouffe. She just sort of -- the former secretary of state just sort of put it out there, and then her -- her spokesperson sort of doubled down on it.

But as -- I think it was Pete Buttigieg, also on the Sunday shows, that said he was uncomfortable with what Secretary Clinton did, and that --

HARLOW: Right.

CHALIAN: -- if you do put something out there like this, you should have the evidence to back it up. But (ph) clearly allows, as you're saying, Jim, Gabbard to sort of try and elevate herself and be like, oh, I've got a big dog fighting with me --

HARLOW: And --

CHALIAN: -- right now.


CHALIAN: And she could get some attention that she otherwise might not have gotten.

HARLOW: And I think to further the great point you're both making, "The Atlantic" this morning, you've got an op-ed by Tom Nichols, who's a conservative. But he writes, "The former secretary of state overshot the mark by making an accusation without proof. Gabbard will now dismiss real concerns about her, just as conspiracy theorizing."

CHALIAN: Yes. I mean, listen, it is -- it is true that there are questions about Gabbard and whether or not she would pursue a third- party run. She says she wouldn't. That was part of the conversation Secretary Clinton was having.

Obviously, the -- her positions are not in line in several spots, as seen on the debate stage last week --

HARLOW: Right.

CHALIAN: -- with the rest of the Democratic field. So it's not as if it's unthought-of, what Secretary Clinton was saying, apart from the Russian asset piece, about how Republicans may try to woo Gabbard to their team in some way or utilize her separation from the rest of the Democrats in some way in the 2020 race. Again, I just think that when you throw something out there like that

without evidence, it's hard to sort of figure out what the next step is, other than it gives Gabbard a platform now.

SCIUTTO: Listen, she went to Syria, met with --

HARLOW: Assad, yes.

SCIUTTO: -- a brutal dictator, Assad, in the midst of a brutal campaign, targeting civilians. A legitimate question, to say the least about that. That's it.

She did say, on this broadcast a couple of weeks ago, she would not do a third-party run. We'll see if she sticks to that.

HARLOW: But politicians have never not said something anyway (ph).

SCIUTTO: Never, ever --


SCIUTTO: -- history of time.

HARLOW: David, always good to have you.

OK. There is a lot going on this Monday. Here's "What to Watch."

TEXT: What to Watch... 11:30 a.m. Eastern, President Trump holds a cabinet meeting; 12:00 p.m. Eastern, Female NASA astronauts speak after spacewalk; 7:30 p.m. Easter, Sen. Elizabeth Warren holds a town hall in Iowa



SCIUTTO: Coming up, a revealing interview with Price Harry, for the first time acknowledging tension with his big brother, Price William. Coming up, why he and Meghan Markle say they are taking a break now from their royal duties.



SCIUTTO: Royal sources tell CNN that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will take a break now from their royal duties towards the end of this year.

HARLOW: Of course, this comes as the couple really opened up about their pressure, pressure of their jobs in the Royal Family, and Prince Harry, just talking about a rumored rift with his brother, Prince William.

Max Foster joins me now. This is part of an eye-opening documentary. Last week, we were talking about Meghan Markle, and being so open about the challenges of being a new mother and a newlywed. And now, we are also hearing it from her spouse.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, again, we hear a bit more from Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, about this. She says that she knew that it would be difficult with the British tabloids. Her friends had warned her that she'd marry Harry and the tabloids would try to destroy her.

She accepted that she would be under pressure. But what she doesn't accept is that they would be unfair. She feels there's a fairness issue, which is why she's taking on the tabloids. And Prince Harry, very much with her on that.

He talked about his own mental health issues. Effectively, every time he hears a camera snap or a lightbulb flash up, he thinks of his mother, dying in that tunnel. So he's really suffering as much as he ever has done.

He's trying to speak to the world (ph), around the media (ph), effectively, speaking directly to the public. And he's being very frank, very open. Even, as you say, speaking about this rift or responding to a question about the rift with his brother, not dispelling it. Let's have a listen.


HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: Part of the -- part of this role and part of this job and this family, being under the pressure that it's under, inevitably, you know, stuff -- stuff happens. But, look, we're brothers, we'll always be brothers. We're certainly on different paths at the moment, but I will always be there for him and as I know he will always be there for me.

Yes, we don't see each other as much as we -- as much as we used to because we're so busy. But, you know, I love him dearly and, you know, the majority of the stuff is probably -- well, the majority of stuff is created out of nothing. But, you know, this is just -- as I said, as brothers, you know, you have good days, you have bad days.


FOSTER: Differing views, actually, on that sound bite. Many people, saying it's so refreshing to hear a royal speak in that way. And, you know, most people are like that with their brothers, when they grow up and they get married.

But, you know, they're not most people. They are a royal family, and there are people within the household who are very concerned about this. Because there's an unwritten rule, you don't talk about family dynamics because it undermines the wider institution of the monarchy. So it depends where you're (INAUDIBLE) to this.


SCIUTTO: You have to live every personal challenge, whether real or created, out there in the open. Max Foster, thanks very much.


HARLOW: Ahead, a student armed with a gun at school, a coach's act of love saved the day.


HARLOW: Quite an emotional moment, caught on video. Surveillance video -- this is out of Oregon -- a high school coach disarms a student with a gun. But instead of wrestling the teen to the ground, he embraces him with a hug.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. Just powerful. You're seeing it right there. The situation unfolded back in May at Parkrose High School, but the District Attorney's Office just released that video in the last few days, so it's the first we're learning about it.

CNN's Polo Sandoval, he's with us here, more. Tell us the story and the moments leading up to this moment.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, when this happened, we had heard those powerful accounts of what actually took place. But now, with this video, we actually get to see firsthand exactly what took place here. And let's roll that video.

It picks up on May 17th. In the footage, you can actually see Angel Granados-Diaz -- 18 at the time -- he walked into the building at Parkrose High. You see that bundle, it was actually a garment bag that contained a shotgun with a single shell, that authorities believe was meant to use on himself.

And then, that's Coach Keanon Lowe that walks right past him, unknowingly, and then eventually you see students fleeing, evacuating. And then in the next take, you're able to see why.

You see Coach Lowe took the weapon with one hand, and then takes the crisis-stricken -- at the time -- 18-year-old with the other. Prosecutors determined that Diaz was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time.

You can see, he appears to embrace him, he hugs him, he consoles him. And then eventually, you see them sit down together, waiting for authorities to eventually arrive. Prosecutors, again, determined that he was experiencing that at the time, and that he had never had any intentions to harm anybody except for himself.

And that the weapon even failed to fire, and that's what provided the coach with that critical moment to take action and prevent him from trying to pull the trigger again.

And, look, we may never know exactly what they discussed here. They were there for about five minutes, I counted. But ultimately, it does speak louder than words.

As far as prosecutors here, we do know that Diaz eventually, he pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm, and sentenced to three years' probation. Prosecutors, saying that that is an appropriate sentence, since it essentially allows him a way to move on with his life and recover.

HARLOW: What an amazing man, what an amazing coach.

SCIUTTO: And a rare happy ending --


SCIUTTO: -- to gun violence, or the possibility of it.



SCIUTTO: Polo, thanks very much.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: Thank you, Polo. We appreciate it.

And thanks to all of you for joining us. Jim and I will see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.