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Diplomat's Testimony Is Reverberating Among House GOP: Warren, Biden Lead in Competing Polls; Biden Campaign Dropping Resistance to Super PAC Aid; House Ethics Panel Opens Probe into Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA); Chicago Teachers' Strike Enters Day 6. Aired 3:30- 4p ET

Aired October 24, 2019 - 15:30   ET




BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Republican sources say that the testimony of Bill Taylor is quote/unquote, reverberating among Republicans in the House. It's been called a game-changer that Taylor a well-respected career diplomat testified that Ukraine felt pressure to investigate the Bidens in order for the Trump administration to release millions in military aid that in fact he was holding it back.

But all these details there in private. In public, the Republican resistance to impeachment is in full flare as we have shown and now the top Republicans in these committees conducting the impeachment inquiry are demanding that this anonymous whistleblower who exposed the Ukraine scandal to begin with give public testimony. But Democrats are saying, no. They are saying no out of concern for this individual's safety.

CNN contributor Andrew McCabe served at deputy director of the FBI until he was fired in 2018 and he is with me now. So a pleasure, Andy McCabe, thank you so much for coming by. Do you think especially given all the testimony that members of Congress have heard thus far, do you think that this whistleblower needs to testify?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It certainly doesn't seem that way. Right? We are far beyond the whistleblower's kind of secondhand account of what happened. We have direct witnesses who are able to step in front of the committee and say here's exactly what I saw, here's what I heard, here's what I meant in the text messages, here's what was replied to me. So, it doesn't seem necessary. I think it's also important to point out that as much as people like to compare it to a federal criminal trial, this is not a federal criminal trial. So, there's normal rules about being able to confront a witness who is accusing you don't really apply in this situation.

BALDWIN: Adding to that, just given the scene on Capitol Hill yesterday with the Republicans storming that deposition in a secure room. MCCABE: Yes.

BALDWIN: Does that also give you pause that if this whistleblower in fact was in a SCIF that that person's identity would be blown?

MCCABE: That's a huge concern and I think yesterday's events certainly shine a light on that. But equally the President's comments about the whistleblower and the fact that he wants to know who they are, and the world should see who this person is, and all of these really damaging comments that he's made about whistleblowers in general. I think also should put the committee in a position of being very defensive about protecting that person's identity.


BALDWIN: I also wanted to ask, just because I know you write about this in your book. That this whistleblower we know is from the intelligence community, he or she is not the only member of that community who's been attacked by the President and attacked by his supporters. How concerned are you as far as how this is all playing out in the intelligence community and how could it be impacting their day-to-day work?

MCCABE: Well, it's crushing. You know, to people who have dedicated their lives to presenting intelligence to decision-makers and people we have encouraged to be bold in their theories and their assessments and in the information that they've provide, to hear that you are not trusted simply because you worked in the community under a prior administration, to hear that your opinions. Your assessments are being kind of pushed aside and on top of that to see our President interact with and take the word of the leaders of our adversaries, Vladimir Putin, other autocratic leaders, is just absolutely crushing to those folks who really live to do nothing other than present the truth, present the best information we have, and put themselves at significant risk in doing so.

BALDWIN: Sure. Andy, thank you very much.

MCCABE: Thank you. Brooke.

BALDWIN: Andy McCabe weighing in here.

Got some news just into us here at CNN that the Biden campaign is now weighing in after supporters pushed for the campaign to accept outside super PAC help. CNN has the details, next.



BALDWIN: All right. Let's shift gears and talk 2020 and all these Democrat candidates. So this new Quinnipiac poll shows that former Vice President Joe Biden in the two-spot compared to our CNN poll which shows him at the top. And no matter the polling the major issue for Biden is fundraising. So a coalition of the top Democratic strategists and donors want this campaign to consider an outside super PAC and the conversations are apparently serious.

Jeff Zeleny is our CNN senior Washington correspondent and he's with me. And so we know that Joe Biden has previously spoken out against creating a super PAC but is he changing his tune?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well. Brooke, this is certainly an interesting development here, and it is about the Vice President's campaign just a few moments ago was releasing a statement talking about how it is essentially dropping its resistance to the formation of a super PAC to help the former Vice President. I'll walk you through this. It's a little complicated here.

But for months and months, Joe Biden as well as all of their Democratic candidates have said , look, we don't want the outside help from super PACs, we do not want this outside money in here to help us. But has become clear in recent weeks, of course, that the Trump campaign is going all-out against Joe Biden already spending thousands, tens of thousands, even millions of dollars against him here. So, just a few moments ago, the deputy campaign manager released a statement outlining a new policy.

Let's take a look at some of that right here. She says this.

In this time of crisis in our politics it is not surprising that those who are dedicated to defeating Donald Trump or organizing in every way permitted by current law to bring an end to his disastrous presidency. Nothing changes unless we defeat Donald Trump.

So Brooke, sort of translating that into English here. This comes after we reported earlier today that some allies and loyalists, of the former Vice President, of Joe Biden, have been really close to creating a super PAC. To help him run ads, do other things against Donald Trump. To defend him against those attacks. Up until now the Biden campaign has been resisting those efforts. Now they are essentially saying, look, if others want to help on the outside not coordinated with our campaign, that would be illegal, they can certainly do that.

But they go on to say in the statement that Joe Biden is committed to changing the laws of campaign finance if he is elected President. That they make the point that this can only happen if he is elected. This is going to be a controversial move from several other candidates as well. Bernie Sanders campaign manager already out this morning saying that Joe Biden should not be doing this. So look for other Democratic candidates to weigh in, but it's the -- the campaign essentially saying, look, play by the rules that exist right now. We can't have one hand tied behind our back here as we're fighting with the President as well as these other Democratic candidates -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Got it. OK so that's where Joe Biden is, and already taking some incoming on how he may be changes his tune there. How about the other crop of candidates I know, what, Tim Ryan is out now today and who's qualifying for the next debate?

ZELENY: You're right, Tim Ryan the Democratic Congressman from Ohio, he said he is going to drop out of the presidential campaign. Of course, he's not been on the debate stage for the last couple debates. He's going to run re-election to his seat in northeast Ohio. But Amy Klobuchar, Senator Amy Klobuchar, she has qualified for that, the next debate in November. She has had three polls just within the last four days that are hitting the DNC qualification level. So she will be on stage.

And of course, Brooke, she has been front and center in this argument really going back and forth with Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to a lesser degree, on how do you pay for all these plans? So she has been a big factor in this race already this week, you know, by pushing the Warren campaign. So she will be on the debate stage that's what she's hoping for. Brooke, it's the only time when someone gets 3 percent in a national poll where they are actually happy about it. Because that is the criteria you need to make the next debate stage. We could have ten candidates or so on stage.

BALDWIN: She had a strong performance at our debate in Ohio. Let me just squeeze one more in for you, Jeff. Just to emphasize like the anxiety and worry that Democrats are feeling over winning 2020.


There's a quote in "The Hill" from this Democratic strategist, Eddie Vale, and so Eddie says this. Quote, this is like the Democratic bed- wetting of past cycles except everyone evidently drank a gallon of chardonnay before they went to bed.

Not the visual I'm looking for, but anywho, how real is that fear? And do you think Democrats, you know, are just, this is typical, it's a little early and they're just freaking out for no good reason.

ZELENY: It is very typical of Democrats to always be hand wringing, always looking for that perfect candidate who may be out there in the distance. We've heard you know Michael Bloomberg's name, Hillary Clinton's name, John Kerry's name on

and on. The reality here is Brooke is this, there may be a candidate out there who may emerge. I believe that candidate is already in the race. It's impossible or virtually impossible to jump on to a moving van, if you will here, a campaign van. This is already in line, but in January of '92, right before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary, Democrats were also wringing their hands looking for someone else to Bill Clinton.

Look at this lead of a great story Robin Toner story, these are jittery days for the Democrats as they monitor the vital signs of Governor Bill Clinton's campaign and watch the horizons for signs of a new candidate. That was right before Iowa and New Hampshire. Of course, he had a lot of controversy with Gennifer Flowers but he went on to be the nominee and of course a two-term President. So I think the field is pretty much set -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Jeff Zeleny. Thank you very much for all of that.

Coming up next, the House Ethics Committee says it's now investigating freshman Congresswoman Katie Hill. Hear how she is responding to accusations that she had an affair with a staffer. [15:50:00]


BALDWIN: She has been one of the rising stars among the freshman Democrats. But now, California Congresswoman Katie Hill, Vicechair of the powerful House Oversight Committee is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Over allegations that she had an improper relationship with a Congressional staffer in possible violation of House rules. And that is just one of Hill's personal entanglements that's making news today.

CNN's Kyung Lah has more on this. And so, Kyung, first, just help us understand this House Ethics investigation and the Congresswoman's response.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's start there. Because the House Ethics investigation is really stemming from an accusation that Hill had a relationship with one of her staffers in her Congressional office. There is no evidence of this relationship. Hill has denied it. And she says you know as far as the ethics probe, she welcomes it, she will fully cooperate.

There's a secondary relationship. A second relationship that Hill did address in a letter to supporters. And this involves a worker on her campaign staff. In a letter to supporters she writes, quote.

I became involved in a relationship with someone on my campaign. I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment. For that, I apologize.

Now, she wrote this because a conservative blog posted an explicit photo of her. And in response to that, she also addressed it in this letter.

She adds, quote, distributing intimate photos with the intent to publish them is a crime and the perpetrator should be punished to the full extent of the law.

There it appears that she's referring to, Brooke, California's revenge porn law that does carry a fine of six months behind bars and that law is to try to prevent explicit photos from being distributed -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: And if people don't know Katie Hill's name, she was part of that huge women wave that really just won so many seats in the midterms in 2018. And I know you followed her, you followed her campaign from the early days. So just how shocking is this, Kyung?

LAH: She is a formidable fundraiser. She's one of the youngest women to enter Congress, to be elected, first-time candidate. We followed her from citizen to candidate to Congresswoman. This is somebody who is absolutely a rising star, who swung a purple district, who has been very comfortable about identifying as bisexual. So an extraordinary person. Really has a bright future ahead of her. This is something that was certainly unexpected that for someone who has followed her for months it certainly seems out of character.

BALDWIN: We will follow it with you, Kyung Lah, thank you very much, on Congresswoman Katie Hill.

President Trump meantime is thinking Republicans who disrupted testimony in the impeachment inquiry, this as we are learning public hearings could come as soon as next month. We are live on Capitol Hill ahead.



BALDWIN: More than 300,000 students in Chicago are missing class for the sixth consecutive day amid a teachers' strike. The union says they want basic changes like smaller class sizes and guaranteed salary increases.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had 20 years of economic boom in Chicago. Every Wintrust Arena and corporate dog park and Wolf Point development and West Loop and Lincoln Yard and 78, every project that needed big public dollars got funded out of the public funds. And yet we're still dealing with conditions that, frankly, look like they were before the civil rights movement.


BALDWIN: Earlier this week, Presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren joined the picket line. The school board has offered some concessions but says it cannot afford to give the union everything they want.

And that is it for me today. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being here. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper --