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Polls: Trump Trails Biden But Leads Warren in Battleground States; Four White House Officials Refusing to Testify Today. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 4, 2019 - 06:00   ET

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


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:59:07]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. I'm wearing the tight leather pants this morning.

It's Monday, November 4th. It's 6 a.m. here in New York. And we have breaking news in the race for president. A series of brand-new polls from the six battleground states that determine the outcome of the election in 2016 and could very well decide it again in 2020. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina. We have matchups between the leading Democrats and the president. And we have two big major headlines out of this.

First, it's tight, wicked tight. The president is outperforming his national poll numbers by a lot. And second, Joe Biden fares better against the president than his Democratic rivals in these states pretty much across the board. Harry Enten digs in in just a moment.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, several big developments in the impeachment inquiry in week. The witness list for today appears to have gone from four to zero. CNN has learned all four White House officials who were scheduled to testify today will not be showing up. In fact, most of the witnesses scheduled to testify this week plan to stonewall. Investigators -- plan to stonewall investigators. It is not clear whether former national security adviser John Bolton will appear.

And then there's this new development. Lawyers for the whistle-blower who triggered this whole impeachment inquiry say their client is willing to answer written questions from Republicans, but that may not satisfy GOP lawmakers who want to hear from him in person. And the president and his allies also demand the whistle-blower's identity be revealed.

But let's begin with our breaking news. CNN senior political writer and analyst, Harry Enten, joins us with these new battleground poll numbers. What do you see, Harry?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Yes, so I think it's very interesting what we see. So let's just give you a kind of reminder of -- and set the stage here.

So remember, in the 2016 presidential campaign, what did we see? We saw nationwide, Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump 48-46. But in the s closest states that Trump won that helped determine the Electoral College -- Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin -- Trump won by a point.

So let's take a look at these new battleground polls and compare them to what we're seeing nationally. And we see a trend line here that is consistent with what happened in 2016.

So nationwide, if you take a look at the average poll for 2020 from October, we see Biden up by eight, Sanders up by six, Warren up by five.

But take a look at these six closest states again that Trump won in 2016, according to new polls from "The New York Times" Siena College. If you average across the six, what did you see. We see Biden plus one. We see Sanders actually losing to Trump by one, and we see Warren trailing Trump by three points. The president is leading Warren in those six battleground states by three points.

Let's break it down a little bit further in terms of those battleground states, particularly. So I've broken them down into the northern battlegrounds and the southern battlegrounds.

What do we see in the northern battlegrounds? So in Michigan, which, of course, is a very key state, we see Biden up by one. We see Sanders leading by three, but we see Donald Trump beating Elizabeth Warren by four percentage points. That's a big difference between those different candidates.

What about in Pennsylvania? Obviously, Scranton Joe, normal Joe, all that stuff. Joe Biden leading in Pennsylvania by one point over Donald Trump. Sanders, though, trailing by a point. What do we see, Elizabeth Warren? We see Elizabeth Warren trailing Donald Trump by two points.

How about in Wisconsin, another key state? Remember, Hillary Clinton didn't visit Wisconsin. What do we see? We see Joe Biden up by two points in Wisconsin over Donald Trump. We see a tie with Bernie Sanders. But Warren, again, trailing by two percentage points.

So this is something consistent, where Warren is running behind Joe Biden. What about in these southern battlegrounds? What do we see there? Well, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina.

In Arizona, we see Biden up by two, but we see Trump leading Bernie Sanders by four points, a tie with Elizabeth Warren.

Florida, key battleground state. We see Joe Biden up by two. But both Sanders and Warren trailing. Two points Donald Trump is ahead in Florida. Warren down by four to the president.

And in North Carolina, take a look here. All the Democrats are trailing. Of course, that's not too much of a surprise, given that North Carolina tends to be the furthest right of these battlegrounds.

One last little nugget from you. From the state of Iowa, which is a state that used to be Democratic, but seems to be running to the right, all of the leading Democrats are trailing. They also polled Pete Buttigieg there, who's down by four points. But Elizabeth Warren, again, down by six, despite the fact that she was leading last week in that Iowa caucus poll among likely Democratic caucus goers.

CAMEROTA: Harry, really fascinating findings. Obviously, we'll dig in more throughout the program. Thank you very much for that.

ENTEN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: OK. Four Trump administration officials were scheduled to give depositions today in the House impeachment inquiry, but CNN has learned they will be no-shows.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live on Capitol Hill for us with the latest. So what happened, Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. It was going to be a busy day, but not.

These are the four White House witnesses. They were going to be testifying, all of them, citing reasons -- executive privilege, defying subpoenas, saying they want their own White House attorneys. Those individuals: Robert Blair, senior adviser to the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney; John Eisenberg, NSC top legal adviser; Michael Ellis, NSC's deputy legal adviser; and Brian McCormack, of the Office of Management and Budget.

What is most significant here is John Eisenberg. He is the National Security Council's top legal advisor. He is the one that Fiona Hill, Trump's top Russia adviser, and Colonel Alexander Vindman, the Ukraine expert, approached over their concerns about Trump's telephone call with the Ukrainian leader. He is also the one who told Vindman not to discuss this call. And he's mentioned in the testimony as someone responsible for taking that phone transcript and moving it into a classified server. What was he trying to hide? What was behind that potential move?

Now, Democrats are trying to play this down, saying they don't need the testimony from these individuals. Obviously, they're disappointed, but they say they are now ready to move forward a new phase of the investigation. That would be the public testimony, Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right, Suzanne, I'll take it. Thanks so much. Please keep us posted.

Meanwhile, a really important development in the impeachment proceedings. Republicans, including the president, seeming to retreat to what could be their final defensible position arguing against impeachment. What is that? We'll discuss, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [06:10:09]

BERMAN: New this morning, CNN has learned that four White House officials who were scheduled to testify today, they're not going to show up. We appear to be in the final stretch of closed-door depositions as House Democrats will soon begin public hearings in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

Joining us now, CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart. He was President Clinton's press secretary. And CNN senior global affairs analyst Bianna Golodryga. And we have agreed to do today's panel sitting down --

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN SENIOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- because Bianna basically won the New York Marathon yesterday.

GOLODRYGA: I cannot move this morning. Thank you.

BERMAN: Congratulations.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thanks so much for being here.

So I think there was a huge development over the weekend in the way that the White House and Republicans are talking about impeachment. Kellyanne Conway was on with Dana Bash yesterday, and basically, retreated to the last defensible position that the White House has, which is, you know what? Maybe there's a quid pro quo. I don't know. It doesn't matter.

Listen to this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: So you feel totally confident that at the core of this, the heart of this, there was no quid pro quo?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: Here's what I feel confident about. I feel confident about the fact that Ukraine has that aid and is using it right now. That it is because of this president that they have it. The last -- the last administration --

BASH: Kellyanne, you very notably won't say yes or no.

CONWAY: It doesn't --

BASH: Quid pro quo, yes or no?

CONWAY: I just said to you, I don't know whether aid was being held up and for how long.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: "I don't know whether aid was being held up." If she did know, if she could say, it wasn't being held up, she would have. And you couple that with the president's statement over the weekend. Senators are saying that President Trump may have done a quid pro quo, but it doesn't matter. There's nothing wrong with that. It's not an impeachable event.

CAMEROTA: Well, why are we even debating whether it was held up? We knew -- we know it was.

BERMAN: But now you have Republicans across the board, even the White House admitting, it happened, it's not impeachable. There's nowhere else for them to go. And I think that movement over the last few days is important.

GOLODRYGA: It is. And it's the Republican Party, and it's those close to the president, realizing that they have nowhere else to go other than acknowledging that there was, in fact, a quid pro quo, which is why they go back to the fact that the money was released. But we know the money was released after pressure from the U.S. Congress.

The money was, in fact, given and agreed to be given when the prior Ukrainian president was in office, Petro Poroshenko, who had agreed to go along with some of these investigations and conspiracy theories and work with Rudy Giuliani in ways that President Trump was worried that Zelensky would not work along with him on.

So this is an administration whose back is up against the wall, who knows that they have the majority of Republicans supporting this new line of thinking. And their statement being that, yes, in fact, even if there was a quid pro quo, we do this all the time in the U.S. government. The money was, in fact, given. We are fighting corruption.

The flip side of that, obviously, is that this was not corruption that, in fact, would help the president run against somebody like Joe Biden.

CAMEROTA: We heard Matt Schlapp trot this out on Friday. benefit U.S. foreign policy or U.S. national security. It's corruption that, in fact, would help the president run against somebody like Joe Biden.

So we heard Matt Schlapp trot this out on Friday, who was on our program. He's a big President Trump supporter. A conservative, obviously.

And he said, not illegal. He just kept saying, not illegal, not illegal, not illegal. Obviously, high crimes, which is the bar -- this is a political process, not a legal process for impeachment. But high crimes is open to interpretation.

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, no, it is a political question. And it's -- it is an open question whether this would be illegal and the person would be prosecuted, unless he's president.

But we've been down this road before. The president won't be indicted under this Justice Department.

I mean, this was, I think, where they were going eventually anyway. We've talked a little bit about this. That it's, yes, I guess it happened, and he shouldn't have done it, but it's not impeachable.

They have one problem with that, which is the president. Because, you know, he doesn't necessarily follow conventional strategy. And he will be out there. He's been saying it as recently as the weekend, it was still a perfect call, and it was a good call. There's nothing wrong with it.

I think they're going to have to move the president into a place where it's in line, you know, with the new thinking.

CAMEROTA: Why? Why, when he says it's a perfect call, that it's nothing illegal happened. I was doing my job. I mean, why can't he stick with that?

LOCKHART: Well, he's not going to have a lot of support for that. I think -- I think Republicans, I think the reports in "The Washington Post" are true that the senators, Republican senators are looking for a place where they can stand, where they're fine.

And it's not that it didn't happen, because the depositions will prove that it did. And remember, they only turn the money over after they heard there was a whistle-blower complaint.

GOLODRYGA: And -- right. And who are they going to believe? Are they going to believe a president who is new to politics, who's an unconventional president versus all of the diplomats that have been in public service, that have been Ukraine experts, that have followed these types of negotiations and deals with regards to money and aid to Ukraine and other countries for decades? And they all raised red flags and said, this is not normal.

So Republicans know better. And I heard over the weekend many going back to the argument, well, Zelensky said that there was no pressure, so even he acknowledged that. Of course, he's going to say that. What else is he going to say? They need this aid desperately.

LOCKHART: And even if -- even if the president hasn't acknowledged wrongdoing, his campaign kind of has. If you look at his ad, they basically try to make something positive out of this, which is, they say, he breaks the rules, but he does -- he does it for you, because Washington is broken. And, you know, so I think you're -- this is the beginning of finally a consistent message from the Republicans.

BERMAN: Look, it's the president saying, it doesn't matter; it's not an impeachable event. He doesn't get to decide that.

LOCKHART: Yes.

Berman: Congress does.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, both, very much. And ice, I would say. A brand-new poll -- brand-new polls, I should say, showing how the

leading Democrats are faring against President Trump in six key battleground states. There are warning Saenz here for Democrats. We discuss that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:20:15]

CAMEROTA: Breaking news. We have brand-new polls in six battleground states that show the presidential race, at this moment, is extremely tight.

BERMAN: Wicked tight. President Trump trails former Vice President Joe Biden, but he beats Senator Elizabeth Warren among likely voters. Joe Biden is the only Democratic candidate at the moment that beats President Trump in five of these six battleground states.

Joining us now to talk about all of this, we have CNN contributor, Frank Bruni. He's a columnist for "The New York Times." And CNN political reporter, Arlette Saenz. Great to have both of you here in studio.

Frank, this is a wake-up call for any Democrat who thought that this was going to be an easy race or who thinks or who sees national polls and think that President Trump is struggling. Not in these battleground states.

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, it's a huge wake-up call, because these numbers are coming in the wake of weeks of, probably, the worst news of his presidency. I mean, he's on the cusp of impeachment. Let's be clear. He's going to be impeached.

We have been learning about some of the worst behavior we know of his in the Oval Office. And yet, still in these battleground states, he's within the margin of error behind Joe Biden, and he's beating Elizabeth Warren.

If Democrats don't take a careful look at this -- and remember, this is not a national election. We know that. Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by 3 million. This is a state-by-state election, and in the Electoral College, Trump is still wicked strong, to use your adjective.

CAMEROTA: It's John's. From Boston.

BERMAN: And there are two major headlines here. No. 1 is that President Trump incredibly strong or competitive in the battleground states. And the other headline, Arlette, is that Joe Biden is doing better against the president than the other Democrats. Basically, across the board here. And that's something that I know is at heart of the entire Biden candidacy.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. I mean, that is the core of Joe Biden's message. Is that he is the one most electable, most able to take on the president. You've heard the campaign over and over for this past several months,

even Biden himself, citing these polls where he is leading. And those polls do show that, among registered voters, he does enjoy a little bit of a bigger margin. Likely voters is a little bit tighter.

But this is certainly something that they're going to continue to stress. When I was in Iowa with him over the weekend, that was something that he kept hammering away, is that electability is a factor and experience is a factor, as well.

CAMEROTA: Let's poll up the new "New York Times" match-ups. Maybe you've been showing them, but let's pull it up again so that we can make a point. Where, when you look at Joe Biden, you see all the blue column where he is beating President Trump, not by much. One point, two point, two point, two point.

Then you look at Elizabeth Warren and you see that -- let's just look at Michigan. President Trump beats her by four points. Look at Florida. President Trump beats her by four points. What does -- what message does this send Elizabeth Warren?

BRUNI: Well, it says to her that the questions that have been raised about her electability, the word that no one likes to use, are not coming from nowhere. The qualms about how she would fare in a -- in a presidential election against Donald Trump, those are not made up.

But let's also acknowledge one other thing. She is the least well known, if we're pulling this, is we're pulling back and looking at it from -- from a distance.

Bernie Sanders ran in 2016. Joe Biden was vice president for eight years. Elizabeth Warren, as much attention as we in the news media have given her in recent weeks, she is still not in voters' minds as firmly as those other two. And that possibly influences these numbers somewhat.

BERMAN: The flip side for Joe Biden, though, is that he is still leading. And by the way, if this were to hold -- and I'm not saying it will, and it's not predictive -- this would be a blowout win for Joe Biden.

BRUNI: But only for Joe Biden.

BERMAN: Only for Joe Biden.

BRUNI: Only for Joe Biden.

BERMAN: But it does show, you know, voters know him, warts and all, and he is still leading the president.

BRUNI: No, I think we have to give Joe Biden his due. I mean, so many of us in the pundit class -- and I raise my hand high -- have been saying, he's going to fade, he's not going to be the nominee, et cetera.

Since he entered this race, he has led the national polls among Democrats, and in the latest round of polls, he still leads. And that means something. His margin may be shrinking, but he has had some terrible debate performance, but he has taken debate performance. He has taken a lot of incoming from his rivals. And Joe Biden remains in the lead. And it's time for us to acknowledge it may just be that Joe Biden does get this nomination in the end.

I still don't think that, but we have to acknowledge that possibility. And I think a lot of us have moved on to Warren.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean, Joe Biden has been scoffing at people, publicly, who suggest that he's not the front-runner. You know, he says, come on, man, like I'm the front-runner, you know, in that Biden way. And so he has seemed, publicly, at least, to feel confident and not feel defensive. Is that how the campaign feels?

SAENZ: I mean, that's right. They continuously point back to these types of polls and also, just these states are the states that they say that Biden can win. Scranton Joe from Pennsylvania. They point to Wisconsin.

They also -- though, I think the tricky thing here is that heading into Iowa right now, it is incredibly, incredibly tight. And there is no guarantee that Joe Biden can win Iowa or New Hampshire. The campaign kind of downplaying those expectations, as well, kind of saying that he has a broad-based coalition down in South Carolina in some of those Super Tuesday early states.

[06:25:09]

But you can't deny that, if someone else wins Iowa and New Hampshire, they're going to have some big momentum behind them. And it's going to make Biden's path a little bit trickier.

BRUNI: That point is so key. These battleground states we've just been looking at, they're not the ones that vote first. Iowa votes first. And looking at polls now, Biden could come in fourth in Iowa, and overnight you would see this race change in terms of his prospects in the states to come.

BERMAN: All right. Frank, Arlette, thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: OK. Coming up in our 8 a.m. hour, we will have Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. He's joining us live from Iowa. What does he think about all of these developments?

BERMAN: All right. President Trump set to host the World Series champion Washington Nationals at the White House today, but not all the players will be there. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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