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Interview with Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI); Election Day 2019 Analysis; TikTok Refuses to Testify to Congress Today. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 5, 2019 - 10:30   ET




JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): -- how the president and his allies have criticized decorated war veteran and White House official Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was just totally uncalled-for.

CARROLL (voice-over): James Melstrom, a financial advisor, could not disagree more.

JAMES MELSTROM, FINANCIAL ADVISOR: I think that the Democrats are really just trying to overturn the results from 2016. And I think it's going to fail miserably.

CARROLL (voice-over): Melstrom also says his newly elected Democratic congresswoman, Haley Stevens, will pay a political price for supporting the inquiry.

So much division. But that doesn't mean those who may disagree cannot be friends.

CARROLL: All of you, 50 --


CARROLL: -- you've been friends, some of you, since grade school.



CARROLL: And you can all talk politics?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even after we have a couple drinks.


CARROLL (voice-over): This group, celebrating their lifelong friendship and their differences.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think as a country, we've forgotten that we're all the same on some level. Political divisiveness isn't what is going to further this country. We have to act on a common ground.


CARROLL: So some agreement there, but a lot of disagreement as well. But there is one area where folks on both sides seem to agree. And that is, Poppy, a lot of folks out here are really unclear about how the whole impeachment inquiry, how it works, how long it will take. And at the end of the day, whatever the results are, if it will end up making this country even more politically divided than ever -- Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's a serious concern. That was a great piece, Jason. Thank you. Appreciate it.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good to have you on the ground there.

Up next, we're going to speak to a Michigan lawmaker about what she is hearing from her constituents about the impeachment inquiry. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is next.



SCIUTTO: Any moment now, House Democrats are expected to release transcripts from two key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. You could say the public phase of this investigation has begun.

Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan. Congresswoman, we appreciate you taking the time this morning.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Thank you. Good morning, good to be with you.

SCIUTTO: I want to begin with the whistleblower who, of course, started this. And comments, public comments from a rally in Kentucky yesterday from Senator Rand Paul, I want to play them and get your reaction. Have a listen.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): The whistleblower needs to come before Congress as a material witness because he worked for Joe Biden at the same time Hunter Biden was getting money from corrupt oligarchs. I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name.


SCIUTTO: Now, as you know, whistleblower laws are designed explicitly to protect the identity of whistleblowers so they feel protected as they share information or evidence of wrongdoing. By attempting -- encouraging the outing of him or her, both Senator Paul but also the president himself, are they encouraging breaking the law? DINGELL: Yes, quite frankly, they are. Those whistleblower laws are there for a very real reason, which is for our national security, to protect people so that their lives aren't endangered or their jobs aren't endangered if they come forward in an appropriate process that's been identified to the inspector generals.

And we don't need to -- it would be irresponsible for anybody -- I don't know who the whistleblower is, I don't know whether they worked for anybody, I don't know what sex they are. And I don't want to know. We've got enough information now that's come forward in independent testimony that's now being made public that, quite frankly, it's irresponsible and dangerous, what was done yesterday.

SCIUTTO: As you're aware, the Justice Department has now released new guidance for witnesses to the impeachment inquiry, saying that their testimony would be legally invalid unless they allow -- unless the Democrats allow for the witness to bring a government lawyer. What's your reaction to that policy?

DINGELL: I think it's a source of intimidation. You've seen, already, a couple people who have quit their jobs as they went up to testify. Others that are refusing to testify. We've seen this happen in the past, not in quite such an emotional times, but I have seen people subpoenaed, I have seen people arrested, I've seen them threatened.

You know, there are three branches of government. Our forefathers knew what they were doing with the sets of checks and balances, and there's a reason.

SCIUTTO: The stonewalling by the White House, and now backed up by this legal guidance, has worked for a number of witnesses, although others have defied that pushback and gone ahead and testified under oath. Have you seen enough evidence already, in your view, to vote yes on an article of impeachment for the president for abusing power with regards to Ukraine?

DINGELL: I'm very, very careful. I voted to move forward with a process about how this investigation would occur. We've got to follow the facts. Nobody is above the rule of the law, and I'm very worried for our democracy and our Constitution.

But I'm waiting for this full investigation to occur, for all the facts to be presented before I make up my mind. And I think it's very important for all of us to remember that. I woke up to Jason's piece this morning on "NEW DAY." And people in this country are divided --


DINGELL: -- and they need to know that we are going to have a fair and balanced process, and I'm committed to doing that. Making up my mind now would not be fair.

SCIUTTO: To Jason Carroll's piece, which you mentioned as we just aired there, you do have a number of voters who do not support the impeachment inquiry. And we look at the broader state among Michigan voters on the question of impeaching and removing Trump from office, 51 percent oppose, only 42 percent support. That, of course, different from national polling, which has shown it about split.


How much does this concern you? And do you believe Democrats will pay a political price for backing the impeachment inquiry in your state, and possibly the Democratic presidential candidate?

DINGELL: So, first of all, the election's a year away, it's a long time. But I will tell you that I -- what was in that piece, I experienced but probably more intensely on both sides. I get yelled at every single day, by people on both sides.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I hear you.

DINGELL: Over the -- yes, it's great.


I mean, I have Ann Arbor, which is very strongly for, and down rivers, which are very strongly opposed. But having said that, I gave several speeches over the weekend, and was very pointed in this. And said to people who have strong feelings, that everybody needs to take a deep breath.

I don't believe any of this polling. You'll remember, three years ago, I told you Donald Trump could win Michigan, and everybody thought I was crazy --

SCIUTTO: To your credit.

DINGELL: -- but it's my gut. And my gut says that we have to have an open and transparent process. People need to see what the facts are. They need to feel like we are not railroading somebody and not throwing the kitchen sink at them. They've got to know that we're being fair.

And at the same time, they also want to see us not only do impeachment for a solid year. But we've got to lower the price of prescription drugs, we've got to be delivering on a --


DINGELL: -- trade deal, and we've got to do both.

SCIUTTO: And those are the issues that Democrats ran on in 2018 with great success.

But there was a worrisome line in the "New York Times'" polling yesterday in these swing states, including in Michigan, and it's this. Nearly two-thirds of the Trump voters who said they voted for Democratic congressional candidates in 2018, say that they will back the president against all three named Democratic opponents.

And I wonder if you fear (ph) -- yes, it's a year out to the election, but it's a year since the midterms. And a lot of these voters haven't seen what you promised there, progress on these other issues. Are you concerned that you failed to deliver for these swing voters?

DINGELL: Well, I'm going to tell you something (ph). So did the president. The president said his number one issue was to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and I think we've got to work together to deliver that. So Republicans have got that same problem.

Look, I think this state is competitive and I think that it could go either way. I feel very much like I did three years ago. But I think the next -- we need to be very aware of that. I think that we've got to make sure that we are talking about the issues. And I think both Republicans and Democrats, there are people out there that want to see us deliver not only on prescription drugs, but on trade deals.

But I'll tell you something. I will (ph) -- this is a wake-up call, and I told this to everybody this weekend. I walked the picket line with UAW workers every day that I was home. And now (ph) in Washington, and there were union workers that are still voting for President Trump. There are people that --


DINGELL: -- both of us, all of us. Democrats have to do a better job of -- and we are -- of what we're doing for the people. We have to do -- we have to work on issues, we have to talk about everyday issues that we did a lousy job on three years ago, and I've said it. But I think we can do a much better job, and I think the White House is totally focused on impeachment --

SCIUTTO: Well --

DINGELL: -- and not focused on getting other things done like we are.

SCIUTTO: Well, we'll be out there with those voters as well, asking that same question. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, thanks very much.

DINGELL: Thank you.

HARLOW: That was really interesting, her last answer. Democrats have to do a better job of this.

SCIUTTO: It is. And it's fair. You know, and to her credit, as she noted there, she said Trump could win Michigan at a time when --


SCIUTTO: -- everybody said no way.

HARLOW: There you go.


OK. So we're one year out from that election, 2020. But we could learn a lot about that race by watching what happens in some key state races today. That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: As we speak, voters are heading to the polls in key races that could signal a lot ahead of the 2020 presidential elections. Governor's races in Kentucky and Mississippi, poised to tell us just how enthusiastic voters are for the president and the Republican Party. President Trump held rallies in both of those states, states of course that he carried heavily in 2016.

HARLOW: The president did not make a stop in Virginia, where voters could decide today to flip the state house back into the control of Democrats. There's literally one seat separating that. They would play a key role in shaping political districts after the 2020 Census.

Here with us now, senior editor for the Atlantic and CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein. So, Ron --


HARLOW: -- where do you want to begin? What intrigues you the most of these three races today --


HARLOW: -- and what is most telling on a national level?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, one of the central through lines politically of the Trump era has been widening separation, widening polarization. The red places and the red voter groups are getting more red. The blue places and the blue voter groups are getting more blue.

And I think what we'll be looking for tonight is whether there's any deviation from that pattern. If that pattern holds, you would see, despite some, you know, signs of strength for Democrats, Republicans holding on in Kentucky and Mississippi, states that are -- have, you know, a large rural population, large white population, large white evangelical Christian population.

And if that pattern holds, you would see Democrats continuing to build on the enormous gains they made in the suburbs in Virginia in 2017, in winning control of one or both chambers there.

I think that's what we are assuming, that we will see more separation, more polarization, both sides kind of full speed ahead. If we don't see that, you know, that will begin, I think, to get more analysis and kind of second-guessing and picking over.


SCIUTTO: The head of the DNC -- RNC, rather, Ronna McDaniel, has called President Trump the best asset for Republican candidates in these races. Is that a matter of the state? I mean, clearly, the president --

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. SCIUTTO: -- and the Republican Party made a decision about Kentucky

and Mississippi but not Virginia, that the president's presence there might not --

BROWNSTEIN: Exactly right.

SCIUTTO: -- be helpful.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, you can read a lot from the travel schedule, right? I mean --


BROWNSTEIN -- look, the basic story of the Trump era is that he is improving the Republican position in non-urban America, outside of the big metro areas. He is strengthening the Republican hold on groups like blue-collar whites particularly those who are evangelical Christians, older whites and so forth.

But he is costing them, you know, enormously among young people, minorities and white-collar whites in the suburbs. And as I said in 2017, we saw an absolute kind of stampede away from the Republicans in the suburbs in Virginia, which you know kind of prefigured what happened in 2018, when the Democrats made those enormous gains in white-collar suburbs, really around the country, even in places that have previously been Republican.

One of the places worth watching, I think the most tonight, are some of these state legislative races around Richmond, Virginia --

HARLOW: Right.

BROWNSTEIN: -- because Richmond is kind of a midsize metro that has not been as Democratic-leaning as northern Virginia. Democrats did break through there in 2018 with Abigail Spanberger. If they continue to make gains there tonight in the state legislative races, that would be a sign that this suburban weakness for the Republicans is continuing -- not only continuing, but continuing to spread.

HARLOW: Ron, if we could just hop back to Kentucky for a moment, because I find this --


HARLOW: -- so fascinating, with Bevin winning by nine points, you know, you love or you hate him, that's just the way that it goes with this guy.


HARLOW: What would a win by Andy Beshear, I mean by the A.G. there -- who is not talking at all about Trump or impeachment -- what would a win by him, if he can pull it off, tell everyone about Trump's ability or inability to be the kingmaker heading into 2020?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, first of all, I mean, the general trend, particularly at the federal level, is that Senate races and even House races are increasingly aligning with the way a place votes for president, right? It's been harder to win -- Democrats to win Senate races in blue -- in red states, and Republicans to win Senate races in blue states.


BROWNSTEIN: This is a little less powerful in governor's races. There's a little more ability to kind of localize it by doing what Beshear -- exactly what he has done, trying to avoid national issues. If he wins, I think it is a sign that there is a limit to the ability to nationalize these elections, but I wouldn't read much more into it than that.

I think it is still going to be very hard for Democrats -- you know, anybody who could win the Democratic presidential nomination, to win a place like Kentucky any more is just very difficult. It is more likely that if they do win the presidency, it is through the route that's going to be on -- evidence, Poppy, in Virginia, by continuing to push back Republicans in these suburban areas, in getting a lot of turnout among their urban core, young people minorities and so forth.

SCIUTTO: Bellwethers. Races to watch. Ron Brownstein, thanks very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And there is a lot going on today. Here's "What to Watch."

TEXT: What to Watch... 2:30 p.m. Eastern, Senate hearing: "Threats to the Homeland;" 6:00 p.m. Eastern, First polls close in KY governor's race; 8:00 p.m. Eastern, polls close in MS governor's race



HARLOW: Still to come, any minute, we could see more firsthand accounts of the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine. These are the transcripts, they're coming. Stay right here.


SCIUTTO: Today, another major tech company is thumbing its nose at Congress.

HARLOW: This comes amid serious questions about how your data is handled. The Chinese-owned social media company TikTok, very popular among teenagers, is refusing to speak to Congress at a scheduled hearing -- a hearing scheduled later today. Our tech reporter Brian Fung is with us now.

I think this is so important, but I think not enough people are paying attention to it. So tell us why this matters.

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Yes. So the big question here is whether or not TikTok is a security risk to American interests. And the -- a number of lawmakers have raised concerns about how TikTok handles its user data and whether or not that information may or may not be ending up in the hands of the Chinese government.

Now, TikTok, obviously, denies those allegations. And Senator Josh Hawley tried to convene a hearing and invited TikTok to testify as well as Apple. Both companies declined, but I think TikTok is getting a lot of the attention here, not only because of its links to China but also because of its massive popularity. It's been downloaded 750 million times over the past year --


FUNG: -- according to analysis firms.

When it declined to testify, TikTok said in a statement that "Unfortunately, on short notice, we were unable to provide a witness who would be able to contribute to a substantive discussion...

"We remain committed to working productively with Congress as it looks at how to secure the data of American users, protect their privacy, promote free expression, ensure competition and choice among internet platforms, and preserve U.S. national security interests."

Now, Hawley responded in a tweet, saying it was a mistake for TikTok not to testify and for Apple not to testify, and that he would be leaving open chairs for both companies at the hearing -- guys.

TEXT: Josh Hawley: @tiktok_us this is a mistake. Come and testify tomorrow about your ties to Communist Chinese Party. I'll save a place for you

HARLOW: Yes, he's really been a leading voice on all of this, and holding, you know, tech companies accountable and asking important questions, so.


SCIUTTO: Yes. Particularly, at times, Congress seems behind the ball on a lot of these issues. It's moving faster than they can move.

HARLOW: We'll watch where this goes. Brian, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Thanks to all of you for joining us. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning.