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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is Interviewed on Impeachment Inquiry; Burger Chains and Antibiotics; Nationals Historic World Series Win. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired October 31, 2019 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[08:30:05]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The House votes today on the procedures for the impeachment inquiry going forward as public hearings seem to be just weeks away. While some Republicans say the Senate should conduct a thorough trial of President Trump if he is impeached and resist calls to dismiss the case quickly on a partisan vote.

Joining us now is the number two Democrat in the Senate, Senator Dick Durbin. He serves on the Judiciary Committee.

Senator Durbin, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

I'm curious, have discussions begun between the Democratic and the Republican leadership in the Senate as to how a trial would take place?

SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D-IL): No, and I certainly hope they will. Thirteen of us in the Senate were present during the impeachment trial of President Clinton. There was a moment when Senator Daschle, Senator Lott, the Democrat and Republican leader, brought us all into the old Senate chamber. It was a very important moment because I think it really established that this had to be a dignified and orderly process.

We haven't reached that point. Clearly, we're waiting for the House to act under the Constitution.

BERMAN: If memory serves, Senator Byrd from West Virginia actually proposed a measure to dismiss the case before the whole trial. It was voted on, although a few weeks after the trial began.

What would happen, if your mind, if some Republicans tried to push that through this time, to dismiss the case before the trial really got started?

DURBIN: Well, it certainly is premature by every definition. The House of Representatives has spent several weeks behind closed doors with a bipartisan -- let me underline the word bipartisan inquiry of critical witnesses. And they've come up with some important information. Now they go into the formal process with this vote today for anyone to

step in and say, before we even consider that process or consider what it generates, we should dismiss the charge. I don't think it brings the kind of dignity to this proceeding that was expected under the Constitution.

BERMAN: I thought one of the most interesting moments yesterday, having to do with this broad subject, actually did take place on the Senate side, not part of the House impeachment inquiry, and that had to do with John Sullivan, who has been the deputy secretary of state, and is now the nominee to be ambassador to Russia.

Now, he's been connected in some ways to the goings on here because he was involved with the dismissal of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. And I want you to listen to some of that questioning that took place yesterday.

(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: Soliciting investigations into a domestic political opponent, I don't think that would be in accord with our values.

MENENDEZ: You were aware that there were individuals and forces outside of the State Department seeking to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch, is that correct?

SULLIVAN: I was.

MENENDEZ: And did you know Mr. Giuliani was one of those people?

SULLIVAN: I believed he was, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: And this is the current nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Russia. What does it tell you?

DURBIN: It's worrisome, very much so. Ms. Yovanovitch is a career diplomat, a career employee.

We've since learned in this morning's news releases that a lobbyist here in Washington, Bob Livingston, a former member of the House, was also lobbying for her removal. It was clearly a political effort to stop her for reasons I can't even explain.

And I would say to Mr. Sullivan and others, before you remove a professional diplomat who's served this country under presidents of both political parties, there should be cause. And, in this case, there never was.

BERMAN: Given that Ambassador Sullivan there -- or I should say Deputy Secretary Sullivan basically said that if the president did it, it would be wrong. I find it interesting what some Republicans, including Republican senators, are starting to say.

And I want to take the case of Rob Portman from Ohio, who says, "It's not appropriate for a president to engage a foreign government in an investigation of a political opponent." So he's saying he doesn't think what the president did is right. He thinks it's wrong. But Senator Portman goes on to say, "I don't view it as an impeachable offense."

So how would you argue against that?

DURBIN: Well, I would just say, let's wait and put the evidence together. Let's listen carefully to what comes out of the House of Representatives, if they do vote for impeachment, and listen to the testimony from the people involved here. If there was, in fact, an abuse of power in the presidency, it goes to the heart of our Constitution.

George Mason of Virginia said that no man should be above justice. And certainly a man, who, in those days, of course, referring to men exclusively, a man who is -- could be capable of the greatest injustice. And that would be the president of the United States.

So prejudge this and say, well, even if he did it, it isn't that important? I think it is critically important, as Mr. Sullivan said, and as most of us agree.

BERMAN: So Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin is an interesting player in this drama because he was in Ukraine. He talked to President Zelensky. He actually expressed concerns about the possibility of a quid pro quo and talked to the president as well.

[08:35:04]

Two questions here. One, do you think he should be a witness? I know that's up to the House to decide, but I suppose if it comes to the Senate and the trial, do you think Ron Johnson is a potential witness here? And given his role, do you think he's compromised as a potential juror in a Senate trial?

DURBIN: I wouldn't go that far but I will tell you that when he returned from his trip to Ukraine, he actually had a conversation with me on the floor of the Senate. It was after our August recess.

And he said we've got to do something to release these funds that Congress appropriated to help Ukraine defend itself against Vladimir Putin and the Russians.

I went on to as -- at the suggestion of Senator Johnson, to produce an amendment which I offered in the Senate Appropriations Committee within days to do exactly that. I didn't know the back-story at all, but I thought he was right. We had appropriated the money. There was no reason to delay it. But he's the one who brought it to my attention after his visit to Ukraine.

BERMAN: Interesting.

Finally, you were part of a briefing yesterday from the Defense Department and others about the situation going on in Syria. What did you learn? What did you learn from that classified briefing?

DURBIN: Half of it was a detailed description of what happened to Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. And my hat's off to our men and women in military, as well as our intelligence community. They took on an important mission for the security of the United States and executed it flawlessly as best I can tell. And I salute them for all that effort.

The other half talked about Syria today. And I will just tell you, there are a great many questions on both sides of the aisle about the relationship between the United States and Turkey. Turkey joined the NATO alliance after World War II to stop the aggression of the Soviet Union, that was Russia in those days, and they were our allies in that effort and have been since.

But now we have a new alliance between Turkey and Russia when it comes to Syria, at the expense of Kurds, who stood with the Americans in trying to put an end to ISIS. So it's become an extremely complicated situation. And I think Erdogan needs to decide once and for all whose side he's going to be on.

BERMAN: Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois, thank you for being with us this morning. Appreciate your time, sir.

DURBIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John, what's in your beef? Don't answer that. A new report reveals some not great things.

BERMAN: Oh, come on.

CAMEROTA: No, they lurk, John.

BERMAN: Oh, come on.

CAMEROTA: I know. Wait until you hear what's in here.

BERMAN: Because that looks delicious to me.

CAMEROTA: Well, they lurk in your fast food and Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to tell you it's not delicious.

BERMAN: They lurk in my belly.

CAMEROTA: He's here -- he's here with a brand-new report card.

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[08:42:31]

CAMEROTA: "Here's to Your Health."

The fast food burger you might crave for lunch, John --

BERMAN: Or breakfast.

CAMEROTA: Likely comes with a side of antibiotics that you didn't order. It's a two-for. Maybe it's good for you.

BERMAN: I'd rather have the fries.

CAMEROTA: Maybe it's good --

BERMAN: I'd rather have the fries.

CAMEROTA: A new report shows more than a dozen of America's favorite fast food chains get an "f" for using antibiotics in their meat.

Joining us now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Ewe, Sanjay, why are they doing this?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I've got to say, first of all, I've seen John Berman eat. We were at an airport together. For such a healthy guy, he has a terrible, terrible diet.

So, John, you need to -- and everyone else needs to listen to this.

First of all, I mean this may surprise you, but nearly two-thirds of the medically important antibiotics that are used in the United States are actually used on animals, food animals specifically. And it's not used to treat infections, but it's used because the unsanitary conditions in which these animals are raised sort of requires these antibiotics. But the problem is that when you use these kinds of antibiotics preventively, you can cause antibiotic resistance, which is a big problem. World Health Organization says one of the biggest public health threats in the world today is antibiotic resistance. And 160,000 Americans die of antibiotic resistant infections every year. So -- so -- according to this report. So this is a -- this is a big deal.

And, again, I don't think most people realize it. We talk a lot about antibiotic resistance, but so much of the problem actually has to do with how it's used in livestock and that's what this report is trying to address.

CAMEROTA: But, Sanjay, I thought that there were all sorts of producers who proudly proclaim no antibiotics used in our meat. I mean is that not true?

GUPTA: Well, so, let me tell you two things.

First of all, there's all sorts of different livestock out there. So with regard to beef, which this specific report gave this report card on, I'll show you how they sort of broke it down. They looked at these various fast food and restaurant chains. A couple of them got an "a" grade. You can see there, Panera, Chipotle. The majority with regard to beef got an "f" grade. McDonald's, interestingly, right there in the middle, got a "c" grade. That's an upgrade for them. And it's interesting, McDonald's is the single largest purchaser of beef in the country. Big impact. This one company can have. And they've now made a commitment to reducing antibiotic usage in their beef.

What you're talking about, Alisyn, really has more to do with chicken, which there's been significant strides. I mean this report's been out for five years. Five years ago, almost all these chains that you just saw there routinely used antibiotics in chicken.

[08:45:04]

And now more than half don't do it. So you are seeing a significant shift when it comes to chicken. Still a ways to go with beef.

But, again, the health implications are really clear here. This is sort of a gimme if these restaurant chains stop using the antibiotic- used meat.

CAMEROTA: That is so helpful, Sanjay. So helpful to know.

So, John, you can only go now to Panera or Chipotle. That's it. That's it.

BERMAN: You know, or you can go and just feel bad about it, which is sort of like the story of my life anyway. So --

CAMEROTA: Instead of going to the doctor, just go eat a burger.

GUPTA: He's a marathoner.

BERMAN: Yes, I just need is more guilt. That's what I need is more guilt.

Sanjay, thank you very much for that. I appreciate it.

GUPTA: Very effective. Thank you.

BERMAN: The Washington Nationals historic World Series victory, it's only nine hours old, but the nation's capital preparing for a giant parade. We're going to speak to legendary sportscaster Bob Costas about it all, next.

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[08:50:06]

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3-2. There it is! The Washington Nationals are world champions for the first time in franchise history!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Oh, my goodness, I get goose bumps even now. This game was amazing. The fans in Washington have waited 95 years for another World Series championship. It was 1924 the last time Washington had a team that won. And finally, last night, it came. And now Washington, D.C., is getting ready for a big victory parade on Saturday.

Our very own Wolf Blitzer, he can't wait for that.

While Wolf is waiting, though, joining us now, Bob Costas, award- winning sportscaster and MLB Network host who's in Houston where this all took place.

Bob, it is always great to talk to you. The morning after a game, seven like this, even better.

We talk about historic. We've never seen anything like this, have we?

BOB COSTAS, AWARD-WINNING SPORTSCASTER (via telephone): Well, when you talk about the road team winning every game, to give it some context, it isn't unusual, it's unprecedented. Not only has it ever happened in baseball, but there are three North American sports that people pay close attention to that play more than one game. In football, obviously, each round of the playoffs is just one game. That's also true in the NCAA in basketball. But in the NHL, the NBA and in baseball, you have best of seven series once you get past the first round. In baseball, it's best of seven.

Over the years there have been 1,400 best of seven series in baseball, the NBA and the NHL. It has never happened that the road team has won every game of a seven-game series. Never. Until last night.

BERMAN: It's happened roughly zero times.

COSTAS: Correct.

BERMAN: Zero times in the history of ever.

And it wasn't just that that made it amazing because the Nationals' motto is stay in the fight. And sometimes these teams have mottos that don't stand for anything, but this one really does. This team had lost 31 of its first 50 games at the beginning of the season, so they were never supposed to be here to begin with. And then, in the playoffs, they faced, what, five elimination games and they trailed in each one?

COSTAS: Yes, they did. They were on the brink time after time. They were down two runs in the eighth inning of the wildcard game. And had they lost that game, the postmortem would have been, well, here we go again, the Nationals can't get past the early rounds of the playoffs. Even the next round, the division series against the heavily favored Dodgers and on the road in game five, they're down late in the game and they come back.

And then they go to Houston. They're down three games to two. They have to win six and seven in Houston. And they do it. And they're down 2-0 late in this game against Greinke, who was spinning a masterpiece, but, again, they get off the mat and stage a comeback to win it all. BERMAN: I loved this game last night. In some ways this felt like an

old-time baseball game. Both starting pitchers went deep. You've seen a lot of games. You found this one to be particularly interesting on many levels. Why?

COSTAS: Well, it was very interesting in that Greinke was completely masterful, had the breaking ball going, had the Nats off balance, pitching by far his best game of the post season. Scherzer, who, as you know, had the neck and shoulder problems that kept him from starting on Sunday in game five, comes out and basically here's a three-time Cy Young Award winner, he isn't dominating, he's just getting in and out of difficulties.

The Astros had the 2-0 lead, but Scherzer was constantly on the ropes. The Astros left a bunch of runners on base. They could have had a 5-0 lead. They could have chased Scherzer, but he kept escaping from these situations, stranding runners and keeping the Nats close enough that they were able to begin a comeback.

And then what will be asked is whether A.J. Hinch, who is one of the best managers in baseball, that's clear. He's one of the best managers in baseball. He told pulled Greinke after Anthony Rendon hit a home run off of him and then he walked Juan Soto. At that point he was still throwing a masterpiece and had thrown only 80 pitches. He pulled him at that point and shortly thereafter Howie Kendrick hit an opposite field home run, which I think you're looking at right now on the video. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, a 2-0 lead turned into a 3-2 Nats lead.

BERMAN: You know, A.J. Hinch, he won't be asked -- he already has been asked about it --

COSTAS: How cool (ph) --

BERMAN: And says it haunts him. It haunts him. He does wonder whether that was the right decision. That's the decision managers have to make.

Talk to me about Washington, because they went 33 years without a baseball team. The Senators (INAUDIBLE) twice. Once they went to Minnesota, you know, and then they went to, what, Texas. Now they have their new team, the Nationals. There really does seem to be a city in love with the franchise.

COSTAS: Yes, when the team gets hot this way, especially after disappointments. They had a lot of regular season success but not playoff success over recent years. But they got on a roll. After they were 19 and 31, from that point on, they had the best record in baseball until the end of the season. So the team that the Astros met, a team whose regular season record was nowhere near as good as Houston's, the team they met in October was not the same team that began the season in late March.

[08:55:04]

BERMAN: It really is wonderful. Obviously, in this business, we have a lot of friends down in Washington who were thrilled to see it happen. The Washington Nationals, world champions.

Bob Costas, I have to say, on a personal level, I pinch myself getting to talk baseball with you the day after a World Series. Thank you so much for coming on this morning.

COSTAS: You got it, John. Always a pleasure.

CAMEROTA: I'm happy to pinch you.

BERMAN: You know, that's totally different.

CAMEROTA: You don't have to --

BERMAN: That's something completely different that we don't like to talk about on TV.

CAMEROTA: That was great. It's been very exciting to see how happy everybody is from Wolf to you to Bob Costas.

BERMAN: And, Bob Costas, who's watched probably 10,000 baseball games in his life, can come on and say he saw something sort of he's never seen before, you know it's spectacular.

CAMEROTA: All right, it was a really special night, a special day in Washington, and the most consequential day yet in the impeachment investigation. Testimony is underway right now. And then there's this big vote in the House. CNN has it all covered for you, next.

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[09:00:07]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A very good Thursday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.