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Flames Moving Closer To Reagan Library In California; Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) Discusses Impeachment Inquiry, McConnell Saying Nothing, Dodging Questions, Lindman's Testimony, Bill Taylor Willing to Testify Publicly; Op-Ed: Katie Hill Will Not Be Last Millennial To Resign Over Nude Pics. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired October 30, 2019 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Fifty years ago, maybe 100,000 acres would burn. Last year, it was two million acres. Like 10 of the last 20 of the most-deadliest, costly, biggest fires have happened in recent years.
So has the climate heats up and these dry canyons get drier and hotter, this is the new reality. And it's going to change insurance. It's going to change building codes. It's going to change the way fires are fought.
We're seeing an explosion of private fire crews, where rich folks and insurance companies hire people to protect specific addresses.
So if you think the wealth gap is something now, imagine when rescue is a luxury, Brooke, because there's too much fire to go around.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Private fire crews. I have never heard of such a thing.
Bill Weir, grateful to you and your crew for being out there and telling the story. Thank you very much. Just surreal.
Just into us here at CNN, House Democrats are meeting right now about the next steps in this impeachment inquiry. Hear why we may see something we're not used to when the hearings go public.
Plus, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, saying everything by trying not to say anything at all. We'll talk to Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin, next.
BALDWIN: President Trump's choice to be the next ambassador to Russia speaking out today during his confirmation hearing on his stance when it comes to seeking foreign investigations into political rivals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Do you think it's ever appropriate for the president to use his office to solicit investigations into a domestic political opponent?
JOHN SULLIVAN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE & TRUMP NOMINEE FOR U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Soliciting investigations into a domestic political opponent, I don't think that would be in accord with our values.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: But the man who would be in charge of trying any House impeachment charge, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, continues to dodge questions about the allegations facing President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Colonel Vindman said what he heard on the president's call, that the conversation was undermining U.S. national security. Does it concern you? Are you worried about the president's behavior at all?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Look, I'm not going to question the patriotism of any of the people who are coming forward. The action is in the House now.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But what do you make of these allegations?
MCCONNELL: As I said, I'm not going to comment on the merits of what's going forward. We're watching what happens in the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's go straight to Capitol Hill. With me, Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin.
Senator, nice to have you back on.
SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN (D-WI): Great to be with you.
BALDWIN: When you listen to that whole thing and read the transcript, that reporter tried and tried again and Senator McConnell was not having it. Not answering the questions asked, he was pivoting and answering questions not even asked. I'm curious why you think that is?
TAMMY BALDWIN: We're seeing a lot of Republicans refrain or dance around the questions asked about the impeachment inquiry. It seems whether they're discrediting the process or trying to discredit individual witnesses or trying to avoid it altogether, that their avoidance, in my mind, shows that they don't really have much to say about the substance of what's been alleged.
We have --
(CROSSTALK) BALDWIN: Why is that significant? Why is that significant, Senator?
TAMMY BALDWIN: Well, I think that we know what the public thinks about the actions the president has engaged in.
We have something released by the White House, the call log, that shows the president soliciting foreign interference into the upcoming election as well as trying to discredit the Intelligence Community and law enforcement community that unanimously came to the conclusion that Russia interfered with our 2016 election.
And we should be placing our country first in all of our U.S. foreign policy, not the political concerns of this president or any president.
BALDWIN: You mentioned the public a second ago. I wanted to get your reaction to the news that we're reporting on today that sources are telling CNN the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, is willing to return to Capitol Hill to testify publicly.
Do you think the fact that this will all be publicized, Senator Baldwin, will then potentially sway Americans, maybe in more conservative districts, which could then sway their elected Republican officials? Or do you think that it's just instead going to turn into a huge circus?
TAMMY BALDWIN: First of all, I think the House, as they prepare to vote on a resolution, has charted the appropriate path forward.
And, yes, the American people are going to get a chance to hear in public, see in public, these witnesses. All of whom have corroborated what we see in the call log, and, in fact, expanded upon it. And I think that that's going to be a very important part of this process.
I understand and agree with why witnesses are sometimes asked in closed-door settings when taking depositions. But the public does need to see and hear from these witnesses.
BALDWIN: But will it sway Republicans? Isn't that the money question?
TAMMY BALDWIN: Well, I can tell you that it is swaying the American people the more they learn and the more they see. And I can tell you, in Wisconsin, a vast majority of Wisconsin citizens, both Republicans and Democrats, believe that soliciting foreign interference in a political, for a political gain, political gains, is inappropriate behavior.
And so I think that as people learn more about this, understand that now I think we're on our fifth witness who has corroborating the underlying details of this call, and what appears to be a month-long effort to get the Ukrainian government to investigate a son of a political rival. You know, this -- this is very, very disturbing behavior. BALDWIN: On the call, the 25th, July 25th call transcript, originally
the White House had told CNN that the, quoting them, "The ellipses" -- the dot, dot, dots -- "do not indicate missing words or phrases." And we know President Trump called this transcript exact, no less than 16 times.
Now we know, according to Colonel Vindman, who testified yesterday, that several serious omissions were made. And if it was a transcript of a phone call that was so beautiful and perfect according to President Trump, then why did it have to be edited, Senator Baldwin, and put on a Secret server?
TAMMY BALDWIN: Those are the answers that the House of Representatives in their investigatory committees are asking right now and getting answers to.
According to news reports, Colonel Vindman yesterday said he tried to make the record complete and more accurate. Some suggestions were taken. Some were not. And those are the sort of follow-up questions that we have when we hear testimony like that.
Let's not lose sight of the fact that I think Colonel Vindman, a decorated war hero, a true patriot, was the fifth witness to, again, confirm and corroborate the sort of central part of the story that we all know now, which is our president, President Trump, soliciting foreign assistance in a way that would advantage him in potentially the next election.
But also really doing damage to the Intelligence Community and law enforcement as he tries to discredit their unanimous conclusion that Russia interfered with the 2016 elections.
BALDWIN: Yes. So much to discuss.
Senator Baldwin, I appreciate you for being on.
I will see you this evening along with several other members of Congress in Washington for this panel over at the National Archives honoring, of course, the 100 years of the 19th Amendment and the big exhibit there. So I will see you and a couple Republicans and a couple other Democrats this evening. I really look forward to it.
TAMMY BALDWIN: I look forward to it, too.
Senator Baldwin, thank you. Thank you.
BALDWIN: As the fallout continues over the sudden resignation of Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill, my next guest says she will not be the last Millennial lawmaker to resign over nude photos having to deal with this issue.
Plus, what caused one of the president's judicial nominees to break down in tears at his confirmation hearing today? We'll play that for you coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: California Democrat Katie Hill is speaking out in the aftermath of her resignation from Congress in an ethics investigation into an alleged Capitol Hill affair.
Hill is locked in a nasty divorce with her estranged husband and she's accusing him of orchestrating this salacious sex scandal to ruin her. but she's vowing to fight what she calls a political attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATIE HILL (D-CA): My staff and our community will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Charlotte Alter is a national correspondent for "Time" magazine, and she joins me.
She just wrote this piece. "Katie Hill Is the First Millennial Lawmaker to Resign Because of Nudes. She Wont' Be the Last.
Charlotte, I posted this on my social media yesterday. Your headline alone got me.
I just had to ask you, why do you think she won't be the last?
CHARLOTTE ALTER, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, thanks for having me, Brooke.
ALTER: A story about sex and power but the reason she won't be the last because it's also a story about documentation. Right? And so Katie Hill, like many Millennials -- one of 20 Millennials elected to Congress last cycle, most of her life documented. She's been documenting everything.
Frankly, the reason this blew up in her face is not because of the affair, although, that is unethical, according to -- in our new #metoo era. But it's because there were pictures. And she probably could have ridden this out if it weren't for the photographs leaked without her consent.
BALDWIN: With these 20 Millennial lawmakers, and who knows come 2020 how many more, right, they will continue to be elected. How will the rest of the world, Charlotte, and specifically the world here in Washington, the world of politics, how will everyone else adjust to this issue of Millennials and photos?
ALTER: I think it's something that's going to be -- going to continue to unfold. And there's ultimately going to have to be a reckoning at some point with this.
Because, listen, this is a generation that grew up right when Facebook was just beginning to become something that young people were using to document their lives. Right? That means that there are some people using Facebook since they were 17, 19, 21 years old. Often, well before they even thought they would have a political career. And there's just stuff out there on everybody.
One of the things that Katie Hill said in her resignation video is that she didn't think that her imperfection would be weaponized.
And that's one of the reasons that I think this is such a unique case and sort of so uniquely telling. Because, of course, imperfections are always going to be weaponized. That's what politics is.
The difference for Millennials is there's so many more imperfections available to dig up because so much of their lives have been led on the Internet and it's documented.
BALDWIN: I've seen so many pieces by women about this issue that predominantly affect women, revenge porn. Electronic assault is how she phrased it in her video.
Let me point to this tweet. It's from Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz. He tweeted, "This is just absurd. The only person who seems to have a gripe is Rep. Katie Hill's soon-to-be ex. Who among us would look perfect if every ex leaked every photo or text? Kate isn't be investigated by Ethics because she hurt anyone. It's because she is different."
Charlotte, how about that coming from a Republican male? Curious on your thoughts on that. And if this was a congressman instead of the congresswoman in Katie's predicament, would this play out differently?
ALTER: I think it's a great point and, frankly, the understanding of how everything about politics is changing with technology is something that Millennials on both sides of the aisle are very aware of. That's one of the things I take from this tweet. Republican Millennials, too, understand just how much digital information can be weaponized.
And I think Gaetz is partially right on this, because one important aspect of this case is that while Katie Hill did allegedly have -- admitted to having one affair with a subordinate, she allegedly another one, but she denied it.
Neither have come forward to allege coercion, abuse, harassment. Nobody has come forward to say that Hill harmed them in any way. There's no victim here necessarily.
But we are in the post #metoo era, and there's an argument that any kind of power imbalance, it's a -- makes it more difficult.
I do think this would be very different if she was a congressman who had been accused of having affairs with several subordinates.
So I think this is one of the things where the photos are sort of the thing that matters here, because I think because there's not a person coming forward saying, listen, Katie Hill harassed me, Katie Hill coerced me, abused me, that person hasn't come forward yet --
BALDWIN: Turn the tables.
BALDWIN: The tables have turned.
BALDWIN: So glad you came on to have this conversation. It's important we continue to do so.
Charlotte Alter, thank you. Good to see you.
ALTER: Thank you. Good to see you.
BALDWIN: Coming up next, the emotional moments when one of the president's judicial nominees broke down today.
And breaking news also on two fronts. A key witness in the impeachment inquiry appears ready to come back for public testimony.
And from Capitol Hill to California. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is in the danger zone. Where this new fast-moving fire is heading now.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN on this Wednesday. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.
Any moment now, Democrats are taking the steps for bringing the impeachment inquiry out from behind closed doors. The House Rules Committee is set to meet this hour to figure out the scope and the rules of this inquiry.
And as they discuss how the public impeachment proceeding will work, two witnesses today are adding to the impeachment story based upon what they're learning from their opening statements -- what we're learning.
Christopher Anderson and Catherine Croft did the same job as special adviser to Ukraine negotiations.