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Polls Show Trump Trailing Biden But Winning Over Warren in Battleground States; Dems Sharpen Attacks Three Months Before Iowa Caucuses; White House Officials Refuse to Testify in Impeachment Probe; Trump, Allies Ramp Up Attempts to Unmask Whistle-Blower. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 4, 2019 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- held up, invalid (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to release these transcripts for people to see. We will get to the bottom of this.



ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Beautiful sunrise there. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And we do begin with breaking news for you. Brand-new polls in six key battleground states that could determine whether President Trump wins a second term.

"The New York Times"/Siena College polls gauge voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina, states that carried Mr. Trump to the White House in 2016.

Voters were asked to choose between the president and each of the leading Democratic contenders in head-to-head matchups. The results are very interesting. Only Joe Biden beats the president in five of those six states. Harry Enten will break down the numbers in a moment for you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also today, four witnesses were scheduled to testify in the House impeachment inquiry, but none of them, none are going to show up.

It looks like there will be more stonewalling as the week goes on. The president and his top allies are demanding to hear also from the whistle-blower who triggered the impeachment inquiry. That flouts the law. They want his or her identity revealed. The whistle-blower's lawyer says his client is willing to answer

written questions from Republican lawmakers. And this comes as Republicans have been teeing up what is their last-ditch argument ahead of public hearings, that there was a quid pro quo, but it's not impeachable.

Let's get the breaking news, though, on these new battleground state polls. CNN senior political writer and analyst, Harry Enten joins us with that -- sir.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: Sir, how are you? Okeydokey. So let's take a look.

I just want to sort of set the stage here. Remember 2016, right? What we saw was Hillary Clinton winning that popular vote, 48-46. But the key thing was those six closest states that Trump won: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. What you saw there was a small Trump margin, but good enough to get him over the top. Those are the states that matter.

So let's take a look at how the leading Democrats are doing against Donald Trump at this point in the cycle. So nationwide, what we see is, Biden, Sanders, and Warren all leading Donald Trump between by 5 percentage points for Elizabeth Warren, to 8 percentage points for Joe Biden.

But take a look at those six closest states that Trump won in 2016. We see a very different picture. We see Biden fairly out ahead, within the margin of error, up by a point. The rest of the Democrats do worse. Sanders, down by a point to Donald Trump. And Elizabeth Warren, doing the worst among them, down by three points. That is a meaningful difference, especially when you break it down by the states.

What you see is in the northern battleground states -- that is the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin -- we see consistently across the board that Joe Biden is doing better than Elizabeth Warren.

Up by one in Michigan, up by one in Pennsylvania, up by two in Wisconsin, while Warren trails in all three of those states. Bernie Sanders somewhere in the middle, leading in Michigan, but losing in Pennsylvania and a tie in Wisconsin.

And again, I just emphasized this. It's seen across the board. So go to the southern battleground states. Arizona, Florida, North Carolina. What do we see? We see Biden doing better than Warren across the board. Up by two in Arizona, two in Florida, and down by two in North Carolina, but Warren pretty much trailing in all of them, Florida and North Carolina and just a tie in Arizona.

One last thing I'll point out. This is not just about name recognition. Because in Iowa, where Elizabeth Warren, well known, leading in that Democratic caucus in the average of polls, does the worst of any of the Democrats, including doing worse than Pete Buttigieg, who has a much lower name I.D. So two things to take away from these polls: very, very close in the battleground states and Joe Biden running ahead of Elizabeth Warren.

CAMEROTA: Harry, thank you very much. Those numbers are fascinating. Thank you for all of those -- that breaking news. And we'll be talking to mayor Pete Buttigieg later in the program.

BERMAN: Yes, we will.

CAMEROTA: About all this and more.

He wasn't testing, but I think that he'll have an interesting take on it all.

CAMEROTA: Joining us now, we have CNN political commentator, Democratic strategist Paul Begala. Also with us, CNN's senior global affairs analyst, Bianna Golodryga; and Van Jones. Great to have all of you.

You all have an interesting take on everything we've just seen. Paul, as a die-hard Democrat, you can't be happy about those battleground polls -- numbers right now.

PAULA BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not going to be an easy race. It's not. I mean, Donald Trump is formidable. I do think if you turn it around, if I'm working for Donald Trump, OK, we have a strong -- booming -- not just strong, booming economy. We've had, thank God, no terrorists attacks at home, no major terrorist attacks. Some domestic attacks, but no foreign terrorist attacks at home. And I ain't got nothing going on.

In other words, he's no better than he was. Now, he was good enough then, and this is good enough for him to win now.

Democrats -- will turn around and put on my Democratic hat. The country, I think, is ready to fire President Trump. The country is not ready for socialism. And I think that's what the voters are trying to tell the Democrats. Is that we want to replace this guy, but just give us somebody -- if -- Joe Biden is not doing better than his rivals because, frankly, he's more exciting or he's running a better campaign. It's because, I think, voters just want something normal. Just -- just get out of my face, Mr. President, just for a few days.


And I think when you look at Elizabeth Warren Friday night, she gave a great speech. She used "fight" in every single sentence. And it could be that the voters who are going to pick this election are tired of fights. Maybe they just want a little healing.

BERMAN: Van, for a while, you've been sort of the chair of the don't get cocky caucus, I think, among Democrats here, so I bet you weren't surprised by these numbers. But what do you think is going on? Why?

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Not surprised. I would say, Elizabeth Warren, if we're six months ago, seven months ago, she shouldn't even be on the board. Be clear, her trajectory has been up, up, up the whole time.

And so I think that the party has a challenge. Does electability mean, as we -- you were just saying, somebody who can kind of calm the waters and bring people together, or does the ability to electrify make you electable?

And Elizabeth Warren is electrifying people right now who were not electrified before. Maybe she can keep doing that. But I think that the progressive wing of our party needs to recognize, this is a much tougher fight -- if we want to go with real structural fixes, we say, listen, we can't just win the election and leave people out there to continue suffering and they'll throw us back out, you know, two years later. Then you've got a much harder case to make than I think most people recognize.

CAMEROTA: Do these battleground polls, fresh off the presses, show that impeachment is working for President Trump? That people -- that in battlegrounds, they are not holding it against President Trump thus far, the inquiry?

GOLODRYGA: Well, look at the Democrats' message at this point, starting from Nancy Pelosi. It's not necessarily about what's politically right, right? It's what is right for the country, not what's right for where we stand in the polls.

And at this point, she feels that her hands are tied with regards to impeachment, and they believe that there's enough evidence to pursue impeachment down the road.

Nationwide, we know more and more Americans are starting to follow suit in that belief, as well. But I go back to what Van said. And even what you said, as well.

There is a difference between saying what we see right now is not normal and we want change in the White House versus, let's just blow everything up.

So the loudest voices in the room in terms of rallies, in terms of messaging don't necessarily reflect what Americans, specifically in those battleground states, want right now.

And what they're not saying, and what they haven't been saying, up until Elizabeth Warren started talking and Bernie Sanders were talking about revolutionizing health care, was Medicare for all. We saw what happened in 2018. We saw that Republicans got really hammered, because Democrats said, you're not taking away our health care.

And now there's a situation in terms of what we saw over the weekend with Elizabeth Warren's new trillion -- $20 trillion proposal, where 250 million Americans may have their health insurance taken away from them.

So there's a big question of, do we want change in the White House or do we want to blow the system up? And I think those are two questions and two situations that a lot of Democrats are finding themselves in and are concerned about. JONES: To be fair, taken away and replaced with something much

better, much cheaper, and more universally covered. But that --

GOLODRYGA: But we don't know it yet. I mean, that's all --

JONES: Sure. We're asking for people to -- to have faith. That we could do better with a publicly supported set of options, rather than privately supported set of options. That is a big risk.

Some people would say, listen, just say that you don't want to take away all the stuff the Republicans want to take away and that you're going to go for lower costs and universal coverage. Don't get into all these, you know, thickets and weeds.

But we've got a bunch of people in our party who want -- the other problem in our party is a lack of trust with the party. That if you throw somebody in there without a real plan, that we're not going to get a problem solved.

BERMAN: All right. We're going to move on to impeachment, because there are some major developments, I think, over the weekend. And the development that I think is the most important -- and we may disagree on this -- is I think Republicans retreated to what they see as their last defensible position on all of this, which is that, OK, the president did it. He maybe even did all of it. There maybe have even been a quid pro quo. All of it.

BEGALA: Right.

BERMAN: But it's not impeachable. Let me just play Kellyanne Conway with Dana over the weekend, because this exchange was interesting.


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's because of this president that they have it. The last administration --

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

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


BERMAN: If Kellyanne Conway won't tell Dana whether aid was being held up, it's because she can't. Because she knows, presumably, that it was. And this is the last line for Republicans here.

OK, we'll concede everything here. We still don't think you should impeach the president.

BEGALA: This is their Alamo.

BERMAN: Right.

BEGALA: They've given up on whether there's a quid pro quo. They've given up. And -- and maybe they can hold that line, maybe they can.

I've got to say, give Dana Bash a gold medal for that. Kellyanne is slipperier than an eel in a bucket full of Vaseline. And Dana just --

BERMAN: You do say -- by the way, that's praise, I think, coming from you.

BEGALA: No, that's not. She's completely disingenuous. I'm sorry. She works for me, Kellyanne. Right? And so she owes the taxpayers who pay her salary an honest answer.


And the honest answer is they withheld the funds, national security funds from Ukraine in order to get political advantage. That's a crime. And if they want to say that's not impeachable, that's fine.

Many of them decided that an affair and lying about an affair was. So it doesn't raise to the level of an affair, a consensual adult affair. It's just extortion with our taxpayers' money and our national security.

GOLODRYGA: And let's go backwards. If all of this was OK and this is -- quid pro quo is something that happens all the time, and Republicans are OK with it, what would have happened if the president was public about it? What if that money had been appropriated by Congress and the president said, You know what, before we hand over that money, there's some Biden mess that I want to look into in Ukraine. And let's take to this Congress. Let's ask Republicans in Congress if they are OK with me holding this money as leverage over President Zelensky's head until he investigates the Bidens' relationship with Burisma and what have you and any of that corruption. What would have Republicans have said, though?

There's a reason that this happened behind closed doors. There's a reason that transcript was moved over into a secret server. So for them to now say, three weeks later, four weeks later, that, oh, OK, we're OK with it, it's a clear indication that their back is against the wall, and this is their last way out here.

CAMEROTA: That's a good litmus test. I mean, if you put it through that lens, obviously, and the lens of what if Hillary Clinton had done it.

But, you know, we've been hearing this more than just over the weekend. We started to hear it from some of the president's surrogates, that this isn't -- this is not impeachable. This isn't a high crime, they say. And obviously, the problem is that the founders did leave that open to interpretation. JONES: Well, I mean, a number of things are happening here. First of

all, you know, if you just are a normal person and you're watching this sort of stuff, you've got decorated war veterans coming forward. These are not partisan people. These are not hacks. These are just -- these are people who serve the country saying, what I saw disturbed me so badly that I spoke out about it; and I'm here risking my career to talk about it.

That should -- that should be a moment that everybody takes a breath and says, hold on a second. What did you see, sir? What's wrong with that?

The idea that you rush past that to the "so what" defense. Like, so what? That's our defense. So what? That lets me know that we're in a real crisis, and not just a constitutional one. A moral one, a spiritual one. That's not the way that the Republican Party should be treating veterans who speak up, period.

BERMAN: Yes, and again, I'm just surprised that we got the "so what" before the public hearings.

JONES: We're already at -- Where are we going to be next week?

BERMAN: It's early to concede all that.

All right. Van, Bianna, Paul, thank you all very much.

The Democratic race, as we've been seeing is tightening, and the 2020 candidates are sharpening their attacks now on each other. We'll break down the latest points of criticism, next.



BERMAN: As of this moment, the Iowa caucuses are just three months away. Three months from today. How can you tell? Well, you can look at the calendar. But there's another way. Because the candidates are sharpening their attacks on each other.

Arlette Saenz here with the details on all of that -- Arlette.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, Joe Biden has really been increasingly sharpening his criticism against his progressive opponents, as the race in Iowa is narrowing.

And Biden's team is also downplaying expectations in the state, with his campaign manager telling "The Wall Street Journal," quote, "I think we're the only ones who don't have to win Iowa, honestly, because our strength is the fact that we have a broad and diverse coalition."


SAENZ (voice-over): With the Iowa caucuses 91 days away, Joe Biden is intensifying his showdown with his progressive rivals. JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It takes a lot more than

plans. We're not electing a planner.

SAENZ: A pair of national polls released Sunday show Biden with a clear lead, while a third gives the former vice president a slight edge over Senator Elizabeth Warren but within the margin of error.

Recent polls in the first two nominating states also find a much closer contest. As the 2020 race tightens, Biden is challenging the Democratic party's progressive wing, preaching a pragmatic approach to governing.

BIDEN: But they all talk about how, yes, Joe is always able to get big things done across the aisle. But things have changed. Can't do that anymore. Well, folks, we can don't that anymore, we're in real trouble.

SAENZ: One frequent target for Biden, Medicare for all. The proposal written by Bernie Sanders and backed by Warren. Biden's campaign calling Warren's recent plan to pay for the policy mathematical gymnastics and unrealistic.

BIDEN: I just think getting that plan through even a Democratic Congress, would be difficult.

SAENZ: As she defended her plan, Warren leveling her own critique of Biden.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If anyone wants to defend keeping those high profits for insurance companies and those high profits for drug companies and not making the top 1 percent pay a fair share in taxes and not making corporations pay a fair share in taxes, then I think they're running in the wrong presidential primary.

SAENZ: That comment prompting the former vice president to push back.

BIDEN: Some of the opponents want to very much characterize views in terms of whether you're thinking big, and if you criticize something that you think is outlandish, you must be a Republican. Ladies and gentlemen, the vision I have for this country, there's nothing small about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor Pete, all the way!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mayor Pete, all the way!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor Pete, all the way!

SAENZ: Also in Iowa this weekend, Pete Buttigieg, who's seen a boost in recent polls and is pitching himself as a pragmatic alternative to Biden.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I didn't just come here to end the era of Donald Trump. I'm here to launch the era that must come next.


SAENZ: Buttigieg also this weekend said the 2020 contest is shaping into a two-way race between himself and Warren. That comment drawing some criticism, Kamala Harris saying it's naive to think the race is set this early. And Buttigieg admitted his comments didn't come out right.

BERMAN: Yes, we're going to ask him about that. He's coming up on NEW DAY at the top of the hour. That, and also some really startling comments from Jim Clyburn from South Carolina, who said that older African-American voters not ready, necessarily, for a gay candidate.

Arlette, thank you very much for that report.

CAMEROTA: OK. So the president and his allies in Congress stepping up their efforts to unmask the whistle-blower. Is that legal?



CAMEROTA: President Trump and his allies are ramping up efforts to unmask the whistle-blower. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There have been stories written about a certain individual, a male, and they say he's the whistle-blower. If he's the whistle-blower, he has no credibility. Because he's a Brennan guy; he's a Susan Rice guy; he's an Obama guy. And he hates Trump.


CAMEROTA: Hmm. Well, because the whistle-blower's identity is not public, he can say whatever he wants about the whistle-blower.

BERMAN: But there's no proof of any of that. I mean, what he just said is nonsense. There's honestly not a shred of evidence --

CAMEROTA: No reason to believe any of that is true.

BERMAN: -- any of that is true. And it's more than that, which is the president is asking to out a whistle-blower. Which in and of itself is something that should raise eyebrows.

CAMEROTA: Let's check in with our guests. Joining us now is CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and CNN legal analyst Laura Coates. Great to have both of you.

Jeffrey, is unmasking the whistle-blower intentionally illegal?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, it's illegal. I mean, this is -- there's a Whistle-blower Protection Act. If this were a private company, the board would fire the CEO for behaving this way towards a whistle-blower. I mean, this is -- the whole whistle-blower idea is that they should have --

CAMEROTA: Anonymity!

TOOBIN: -- protections --


TOOBIN: -- anonymity, much less be attacked by the president of the United States.

And here, the whistle-blower is -- is factually irrelevant. Because the whistle-blower just said from the beginning, I have secondhand information. Go talk to the people who have firsthand. That's what's been done. So, I mean, this is just pure harassment.

BERMAN: And every substantive element that the whistle-blower outlined has basically been confirmed and/or furthered by what we know from this testimony, Laura. So you see this, and it's just a side show. It's just a distraction game from the president.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is. I mean, essentially, it's saying to yourself, let's shoot the messenger, which you should not obviously do in any realm of life.

But it's more than that. Just last week, the president up until that point had been complaining that the whole reason he wanted the whistle-blower outed is because he wanted to be able to confront his accuser. He wanted to be able to cross-examine the person, test their credibility.

Well, guess what? A resolution was passed just last week from the House of Representatives that said, you'll have an opportunity to do that for those witnesses that do testify, that did already cooperate the substantive aspects of each and every thing. You'll have the opportunity.

So now he's just trying to, essentially, have a distraction moment here, which is not useful.

And more importantly, as Jeffrey talked about, not only is it illegal, it should be illegal. Because it will have a very chilling effect on anyone who wants to come forward and report abuses of power. Not just in the government, but everywhere else.

Imagine where we'd be if, over the course of history, from the Pentagon Papers on, we did not have people willing to come forward and say, excuse me, here is what happened. Here's what I know. And by definition, I am credible, because I was in the room.

CAMEROTA: I think that voters get confused, Jeffrey, when they hear that something is illegal, that the president is doing in public, wide open. So, does that become an article of impeachment?

TOOBIN: I mean -- CAMEROTA: I mean, what do you -- the fact that he is -- well, he's not breaking the law by asking for the identity to be revealed. He would break the law if he revealed the identity, right?

TOOBIN: Yes, although, harassment, which I think this clearly is, is illegal.

But, you know, this is one of the tests of our democracy under Donald Trump. That, you know, he has violated so many norms. He has violated so many laws like this one, that, you know, we -- you know, we have to decide what our priorities are.

I mean, you know, so many -- he lies so much and tells -- and says so many crazy things. You know, he tweeted over the weekend that the Republicans should put out their own transcripts of the hearings that are going on in private now. I mean, there are official court reporters there. I mean, there's not going to be more than one transcript. There's no question about the legality of the transcripts.

I mean, you know, crazy stuff like that, we've just sort of learned to discount that, oh, well, you know, that's just Trump talking.

CAMEROTA: But this one's a law.

TOOBIN: But I think that has a cost. The whistle-blower thing has a -- and also, there's a human being there who was under a great deal of threat.

BERMAN: Look, it could be obstructive. It could be abuse of power. That's ultimately for the House of Representatives to decide. And they may choose to focus on other priorities, right?

Laura, there is something else interesting when it comes to the whistle-blower, which is that the whistle-blower's attorney is now saying that he or she will answer questions to Republicans, if they want, in written form.

Now, people will -- the Republicans say, no, no, no, no, no, no, that's not enough. That's not enough.

People will say, well, what about the irony of the fact that President Trump only answered questions in written form to the Mueller report? That may be so.

I, again, see this all as a sideshow. What do you see?

COATES: Well, I see the same sideshow. I do also see the irony you're talking about. Because the notion of saying, we're going to have a response that's vetted.

Normally you're talking about the president of the United States or any other fact witness --