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Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) Discusses Joe Biden's Lackluster Fundraising; Fewer Salmon Spells Trouble For Food Chain In Pacific Northwest; Astros Assistant General Manager Apologizes For Inappropriate Language. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 23, 2019 - 07:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: I want to ask you about his fundraising though, which has been lackluster compared to some of his rivals.

So here's for the third quarter. He raised almost $9 million. And when you compare that to Sanders' $33.7 million; Warren, $25.7 million, are you concerned about that?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, Alisyn, the poll that you just released on this broadcast a few minutes ago shows that Joe continues to enjoy a very strong and solid lead nationally. And in recent polls he's been shown as the leading Democratic contender in critical races.

For example, a recent Fox News poll showed him nine points up in Wisconsin over President Trump. I guess, obviously --

CAMEROTA: Yes. But then, why aren't -- why isn't he raising more money?

COONS: I will agree with you that those fundraising numbers are below his chief competitors, but I know that the former vice president is working hard.

You know, when you run for president you've got to do several things at the same time. Be on the ground, as he has been recently in New Hampshire, in Iowa, in South Carolina, and connect with the media nationally, and continue to raise money.

One of the things I respect about Joe Biden, he's never been a ferocious fundraiser. He has enjoyed connecting with people, hearing from people, being on the ground and campaigning.

I'm confident with the strong poll numbers you've just released his fundraising will pick up and we'll see a very strong fourth quarter.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sen. Chris Coons. We really appreciate you being on NEW DAY. Thank you.

COONS: Thank you, Alisyn. Great being with you.

CAMEROTA: John. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So how will Republicans react to the impeachment testimony we heard from Ambassador Bill Taylor? Two former Republican congressmen join us next.



BERMAN: The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine laying out in explicit detail evidence that President Trump held up foreign aid in exchange for a promise to investigate his political rival.

As the "Washington Post's" Dan Balz puts it, "It is no longer a question of whether this happened. It is now a question of how the president explains it and how lawmakers, especially Republicans, choose to respond to it."

Joining me now, two former Republican members of Congress and CNN political commentators, Sean Duffy and Charlie Dent. They come at this from different sides.

So, Congressman Dent, I want to start with you here. You have been telling us you think the dam is getting ready to break. After hearing Ambassador Taylor's testimony, how's that dam doing this morning?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN, PENNSYLVANIA: The dam is barely holding on because look, Bill Taylor is a patriot. He was very persuasive. I mean, it's clear that he established a quid pro quo. I wish this man had been running the Ukraine policy all this time.

I don't know how any Republican member can look at this thing or any member of Congress cannot be alarmed by this. I mean, the quid pro quo was stark and the president is insisting on using official resources to dig up dirt on his opponent. I mean, this is just simply indefensible.

And what's even worse is the president continues to advance the foreign policy objectives of Vladimir Putin, not only in this situation with the defensive missiles for Ukraine but also -- but also in Syria. And, badmouthing NATO and undermining the E.U. I mean, this is just stunning.

So I think the -- it's going to be a rough day.

BERMAN: Congressman Duffy?

SEAN DUFFY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN, WISCONSIN: Well, first of all, Charlie and I weren't in the room yesterday for the hearing, and neither were you or none of your viewers. There's only a select few members of Congress who got to hear Bill Taylor's testimony.

Now, some of the information in the opening statement was leaked out. We had many Democrats come out and rush to the cameras and with their perspective give us their take on what happened. John, this is a secret court. I think in America we should open this process up and let every American see Bill Taylor -- hear his testimony, hear his accusations. To know what evidence he has that's firsthand knowledge and what evidence does he have that is secondhand knowledge.

BERMAN: So, Congressman Duffy -- Congressman Duffy, we do -- we do have -- we do have what is called in this business -- we do have what is called in this business a primary source, which is the opening statement here.

And this isn't -- I know Republicans, starting last night on the House floor, have been talking about process. This opening statement isn't about process. This is his testimony.

So to the testimony itself that we're seeing right here, what is your response because Congressman Dent just called it stark? Is it not stark?

DUFFY: But, John, we are having an impeachment trial right now in the House and --

BERMAN: No -- no, we're not. As a matter of fact, that is not --

DUFFY: Oh, yes --

BERMAN: -- at all true.

DUFFY: What is it, then?

BERMAN: It's not at all true. You have an -- you have an impeachment inquiry.

DUFFY: What is it?

BERMAN: An impeachment trial, as you know from your knowledge of the Constitution, it happens in the Senate.

DUFFY: It goes in the Senate, right. But what --

BERMAN: This is an impeachment inquiry --

DUFFY: So this --

BERMAN: -- which is most comparable to a grand jury investigation, which as you know, isn't --


BERMAN: -- an opening proceeding.

And as you also --


BERMAN: -- know, Republicans had equal time in the questioning yesterday. And I'm not even asking you about the questioning.

DUFFY: Sure.

BERMAN: I'm asking you about the opening statement --

DUFFY: So I -- but this --

BERMAN: -- which you're not addressing. Please address the opening statement.

DUFFY: I will, but -- I will go to that.

But to be clear on the point, a grand jury is secret. You don't have partial transcripts sent out to the American people. You don't have folks who are in the grand jury then coming out and commenting on it.

I have more faith in you, Charlie, and me, and the American people to listen to the evidence -- all of it -- and make judgments on all the evidence so we can decide how we move forward.

Now, with regard to Bill Taylor. Listen, do I think there's a quid pro quo here -- and Charlie said yes, there was.

The Ukrainians have to know that Donald Trump was taking something away from them to have a quid pro quo. A perfect example of a quid pro quo is --

BERMAN: But the Ukrainians knew. The Ukrainians --

DUFFY: -- Joe Biden, who said if you don't -- if you don't fire this prosecutor, I'm going to take away a billion dollars. That's one thing for another thing.

Donald Trump doesn't have that because the Ukrainians never knew anything was taken away.

BERMAN: Charlie?

DENT: The Ukrainians were being told. The president of Ukraine was being told to make a public statement on CNN. You know, that was part of -- that was supposed to be part of the deal.

The Ukrainians, I think, clearly understood the pressure that they were under.

DUFFY: No, they didn't.

DENT: They needed the weapons. And they were being told to make a public statement on CNN to investigate Burisma and the Bidens. That's clear.


Look, people ask me why do I push back against this --

DUFFY: Charlie, that's just -- DENT: But people ask me why do I push back against this administration and the president -- because my nose is not a heat- seeking missile for the president's backside.

I mean, people have to stand up and say -- and talk clearly to the American people. This is wrong. I mean, you cannot use your official --

DUFFY: Charlie --

DENT: -- to put -- official resources of the government to investigate your political opponent, even without the quid pro quo.

I mean, I was the chairman of the Ethics Committee. If a member of Congress had done anything like this they would have been investigated. They would have been referred to the Department of Justice.

DUFFY: Charlie --

DENT: End of story.

DUFFY: The Ukrainians -- the Ukrainians have said they didn't know that the -- that the money was taken away -- the resources were taken away. They said they didn't know. Therefore, you can't have a quid pro quo.

BERMAN: Well --

DENT: Well, Taylor knew.

DUFFY: Well, if that's what you want to say. Donald --

BERMAN: Congressman --

DUFFY: You want to go after Donald Trump for different purposes.

BERMAN: Congressman -- Congressman Duffy, let me make perfectly clear the Ukrainians did know, according to Ambassador Taylor, that the meeting was conditioned on these statements. And as part of the testimony yesterday that Bill Taylor gave -- this testimony which, again, you're not really addressing here, he talks about these investigations.

"Ambassador Sondland," Taylor says, "said everything was depending on such an announcement, including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky 'in a public box' by making a public statement about ordering such investigations."

The senior --

DUFFY: John --

BERMAN: -- U.S. diplomat, Congressman Duffy -- the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine thought there was a quid pro quo. Do you have any reason to doubt his experienced analysis here? DUFFY: So, two points.

The Ukrainians have said they had no idea before the phone call. It took them days after the phone call.

But I spent 10 years in a courtroom as a prosecutor and if you want to slice and dice certain portions of evidence and condemn defendants, you can do that all day long. Or if you want to parse certain portions of testimony and condemn defendants, you can do that.

I would look at the whole of the evidence and I want to hear the testimony. And so, I look at Bill Taylor and the leaks. It is non- persuasive to me because I -- and I think to the American people when you don't get the full spectrum. They don't get to see the witness sit there and be cross-examined, look at the credibility.

You know, look at the attacks on the president -- look at the weaknesses of the attacks.

BERMAN: Are you against -- are you against all -- are you against all closed-door congressional testimony? You're quite aware that all kinds of testimony in Congress happens behind closed doors. And I'm quite sure --

DUFFY: Listen, if --

BERMAN: -- that we will get to see Ambassador Bill Taylor very soon probably testify in public.

DUFFY: But --

BERMAN: Congressman Dent, I'm sorry I cut you off.

DENT: Look, I believe this testimony of Bill Taylor is enormously persuasive. I mean, this man understands the issue. He connected many dots.

It seems to me that Gordon Sondland has a problem. He's going to have to be brought back in to answer some additional questions.

He keeps saying there's no quid pro quo and all I keep reading is that this -- you do this for that. That's what they keep saying. I mean, the Latin was missing apparently, but other than that -- I mean, all the elements are there.

If I were -- look --

DUFFY: John --

DENT: My good friend, Sean -- look, I just -- I just can't understand how anybody can look at this document -- and we can talk about process until we're blue in the face. Yes, more of this should be done out in the open.

But the point that I'm making is that the substance is very significant and if Gordon -- DUFFY: But, Charlie --

DENT: -- if Bill Taylor, though -- Bill Taylor --

I mean, this 15 pages of this thing. I encourage everybody to read it. It's persuasive. I don't know how you can say it's not.


DUFFY: Charlie, you didn't hear the testimony. You weren't in the room --

DENT: I read it. I got 15 --

DUFFY: -- so you're drawing conclusions.

I don't -- listen --

DENT: I read 15 pages of it.

DUFFY: -- that was the opening statement.

You didn't -- you did not hear all of the testimony yesterday. No one has. And so to draw conclusions off Bill Taylor's testimony that you didn't hear and say we should impeach the president is absolute bogus.

DENT: I said something that if you have an inquiry --


DUFFY: -- to see all the evidence.

DENT: It should be an inquiry.

DUFFY: And so, don't draw any -- don't draw conclusions on evidence that you have not seen.

BERMAN: Well, we have seen --

DUFFY: And that's what you're doing today.

And I think --

BERMAN: We -- go ahead.

DUFFY: You have faith in the American people and so do I. And you and I both -- and we're friends -- we disagree right now but we're friends.

DENT: Right.

DUFFY: And we always try to open everything up to the American people -- be transparent with them.

And they have a right to see this because what's happening is you have a secret proceeding that then we try in the court of public opinion -- we come and talk about it on T.V. -- on the evidence that we don't have because we weren't in the room, and that's wrong.

If we're going to talk about it on -- about it on T.V., we're going to leak evidence out. Let's let the American people see it for themselves instead of the bits and pieces that have been brought to us by Democrats and a few Republicans.

BERMAN: Sean --

DUFFY: That's not the right way we do things in America.

BERMAN: It's 15 pages of an opening statement -- the full 15 pages unedited -- and it's available for the American public to see on

Congressman Dent?

DENT: Well look, again, the President of the United States seems to be advancing Vladimir Putin's foreign policy interests.

He never believed in this policy providing a lethal military assistance to the Ukrainians, even though I think Sean and I both did. And, President Obama didn't want to do it, either. The president didn't support it and he's taking Putin's side on that issue.


He's doing the same thing with the Kurds by abandoning the Kurds. Nothing could please Putin more. Badmouthing NATO, taking on the European Union. I just can't understand why the president is advancing Russia's interests in this -- in this very transparent way.

And now, we have a patriot who is -- we have a patriot in Bill Taylor who is actually laying out what I thought should be the Ukrainian policy of the United States. And it's actually -- it was a -- it was a good one.

DUFFY: But you're not --

DENT: What's that?

DUFFY: But you're not the president. The president was elected the president and he has the right to implement foreign policy.

So you have a lot of people who work in the State Department that have political opinions as well and personal opinions on what we should advance in Ukraine and they may disagree with the president.

We didn't run for president. Donald Trump won and he gets to execute the foreign policy that he feels is right, and that's what he is doing.

DENT: But what I want --

BERMAN: Is investigating -- is investigating -- Congressman Duffy -- and we do have to -- we do have to go here.

But, just, Congressman Duffy, very quickly, is investigating a political opponent -- is that foreign policy?

DUFFY: I think investigating corruption is absolutely appropriate for the president and that's what --

BERMAN: That's not what I asked. That's not what I asked. That's not what I asked.

DUFFY: Well, that's what the --

Is asking -- is asking a foreign country -- is asking a foreign country --

DUFFY: Well, that what the president was doing is looking at the corruption of a quid pro quo.

BERMAN: -- to investigate a political opponent -- yes or no -- is that foreign policy?

DUFFY: Well, I haven't seen that. I've seen -- I've seen Donald Trump investigate corruption where Joe Biden was holding up money to have a prosecutor fired who has --

BERMAN: All right.

DUFFY: -- investigated his son in the Ukraine. That's wrong.

BERMAN: I do commend people to go read Bill Taylor's opening statement and then go back and read the rough transcript from President Trump's call to President Zelensky where he asks President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden.

Sean Duffy -- Congressman Charlie Dent, Congressman Duffy, this was a great conversation. Thanks for being with us this morning.

DUFFY: Thanks, John.

DENT: Thanks, John. Great to be with you guys.

BERMAN: Come back soon -- Alisyn.

DUFFY: Good to see you, John.

CAMEROTA: Interesting debate, John. Very interesting to hear both sides there.

All right. Meanwhile, my specialty, sports.

The Astros and the MLB addressing a controversy inside the clubhouse. This was after a team executive berated a group of female reporters.

Wait until you hear what he said. What until you hear his, sort of, apology.


[07:51:44] BERMAN: A drop in salmon numbers spells trouble for the food chain in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. It means that killer whales are starving and dying off. So why is this happening?

CNN's chief climate correspondent Bill Weir here to explain. What's going on here, Bill?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's so interesting how we adapt to what we don't have.

There used to be wild salmon in the Thames around London. There used to be wild salmon in all the rivers around Manhattan. There used to be wild salmon in California. And now, there's a very real threat that our kids will be saying there used to be salmon in the Pacific Northwest.

It was a dead baby -- a killer whale that actually got people talking about what to do next.


WEIR (voice-over): As much as air or water, so much life in the Pacific Northwest depends on salmon. Over 130 species rely on nature's original food delivery, but fewer salmon are surviving the heroic swim from open the ocean to spawning streams hundreds of miles inland. And that means trouble for two creatures that really love the king of fish, killer whales and us.

In your grandparents' day, the Columbia Basin seemed to produce a never-ending supply and salmon the size of people. But those big June hog Chinooks are extinct now and this year numbers were so low the fall fishing season was canceled.

BRETT VANDENHEUVEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COLUMBIA RIVERKEEPER: The estimates are about 17 million would return to the Columbia every year. It was the greatest salmon fishery in the world. And now, it's about a million.

WEIR (voice-over): And most of those are hatchery fish with weaker genes and less fat than their wild cousins, so the southern resident killer whales that live on Chinook are starving. There are only 73 of this kind of orca left on the planet.

And after a grieving mom pushed her dead calf around Puget Sound for weeks last summer, it rekindled the decades' old debate -- salmon versus dams.

WEIR (on camera): What would you say to folks who say the best thing that could happen for these animals in this ecosystem is to take these dams down?

TIM DYKSTRA, SENIOR FISH PROGRAM MANAGER, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS N.W. DIVISION: Yes. I'd say for the Army Corps of Engineers, we're looking to do the right thing. We're looking to operate the dams that are here while we're taking a close look at what the future of these dams are in the region. WEIR (voice-over): To find their birth stream, many Chinook coming out of the Pacific must navigate at least eight dams -- four on the Columbia, four on the Lower Snake. These are the four that would likely come down first.

But removing a dam takes an act of Congress and will meet stiff resistance from special interests like wheat farmers who need dams and locks to float their crop to market.

And since Bonneville Dam, alone, can provide carbon-free power to a city the size of Seattle, the debate divides loves of wildlife on all sides.

JASON SWEET, SUPERVISORY FISH BIOLOGIST, BONNEVILLE DAM: I think we're trying to do our best to improve conditions through the migration channel through the river for the salmon, trying to make sure that power and fish can coexist here in the Columbia Basin.

WEIR (voice-over): But, 13 species of fish remain threatened or endangered, even though the federal government has spent over $16 billion trying to make dammed rivers more fish-friendly.


VANDENHEUVEL: Yes, the salmon can cross the fish ladders, but the river -- the Columbia River is too hot. The reservoirs behind the dams have caused this hot water problem because they're stagnant, absorbing a lot of solar radiation.

WEIR (on camera): I see.

VANDENHEUVEL: And then, couple that with climate change -- and climate change is pushing that over the edge -- to make the river too warm for salmon to survive.

WEIR (voice-over): And it's not just the rivers. Scientists are worried that the infamous blob of warm water off the Washington-Oregon coast is back.

DR. NICK BOND, WASHINGTON STATE CLIMATOLOGIST, UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON: So we're kind of wondering -- wow -- is this going to -- is this happening again? And it's kind of alarming because it's so close on the heels of that past event.

WEIR (voice-over): Dams have long been concrete symbols of human ingenuity. But now, with entire ecosystems in hot water, how much longer can they stand?


WEIR: We think of these things like mountains. They're permanent, right? But the lifespan of a dam is about 100 years, so they're coming down eventually. The question is how many species will be gone when they do?

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, you made a great point that there are all of these other considerations for them.

WEIR: That's it. It's such a "Sophie's Choice" as how you do this sort of thing.

And, Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington State, over those four dams on the Lower Snake are in his state -- he's arguably the greenest leader in America. He's waiting for an environmental impact study to decide where to come down on this.

BERMAN: And that tells you something -- that really does.

WEIR: Yes.

BERMAN: We're so lucky that we have you to go out and tell these stories because I think they're so important for everyone to see.

WEIR: I'm so lucky you run them.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Bill. Great to have you here.

WEIR: Great to be here.

CAMEROTA: All right.

So, the Houston Astros are in damage control and a team executive is apologizing for using what he calls inappropriate language. This follows a "Sports Illustrated" reporter describing a frightening verbal encounter at the Astros clubhouse on Saturday night.

The reporter writes, "And in the center of the room, Astros executive Brandon Taubman turned to a group of three female reporters, including one wearing a purple domestic-violence awareness bracelet, and yelled half a dozen times, 'Thank God we got Osuna! I'm so f-ing glad we got Osuna!'"

The man he was referring to is Astros pitcher Roberto Osuna, who was suspended for 75 games last year for violating MLB's domestic violence policy in 2018.

Joining us now to talk about all of this is CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. Christine, great to see you this morning.

Let's just start -- let's just take this chronologically. So, on Saturday after their win, Brandon Taubman yelled at a group of three female reporters, "I'm so f-ing glad we got Osuna" when everyone knows that Osuna had been suspended for domestic violence.

So why would he say that?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST, SPORTS COLUMNIST, USA TODAY: It's a great question, Alisyn, and it's completely inappropriate. It would have been inappropriate 50 years ago; it's certainly inappropriate now. And, of course, the reaction has been fantastic to see how the world -- the onslaught of Twitter against the Astros, against him. But he thought, I guess, it's a boys' club and he thought he could go ahead and do this. It's hard to defend or even describe what might be going through that man's mind.

The reporters, of course, have every right to be there. There are thousands of women covering sports in this country now in locker rooms every day, every night for all our major league teams and colleges as well. So they had every right to be there.

One of the three women actually has tweeted about domestic violence issues, so the thought is he may have been targeting here. Again, completely inappropriate behavior in what is a workplace.

CAMEROTA: Then it got worse. It got worse after that because the Astros put out this statement attempting to defend him basically smearing the reporter and saying that she had fabricated a story where one didn't exist.

And then the other reporters who witnessed it came forward and said no, she didn't. We witnessed the very same thing. And there were other witnesses who couldn't deny it.

So then, after that attempt to smear the reporter, they had to issue -- Brandon Taubman had to issue this statement.

He says, "This past Saturday during our clubhouse celebration, I used inappropriate language for which I am deeply sorry and embarrassed. In retrospect, I realize that my comments were unprofessional and inappropriate.

I hope that those who do not know me understand that the "Sports Illustrated" article does not reflect who I am or my values. I'm sorry if anyone was offended by my actions."

Does that do the trick because I have seen lots of comments that he's not directly apologizing to the reporters?

BRENNAN: Well, that's true. And no, I don't think so. I think Major League Baseball should punish him and maybe it's time for him -- in fact, I think it is time for him to leave Major League Baseball and find another line of work.

It's important, Alisyn, to note that the reporter for "Sports Illustrated," Stephanie Apstein, actually waited 36 hours. She didn't tweet about this on Saturday night. She was calm, as all these other reporters were, and doing their jobs.

And on Monday, she went up to one of the Astros public relations people simply to ask what was the intent there.