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Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Interviewed on Change of Testimony of Ambassador Gordon Sondland in Impeachment Inquiry regarding Quid Pro Quo between President Trump and Ukrainian President; Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) Interviewed on Democratic Majorities Elected to Both Houses of Virginia Legislature. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired November 6, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- admitted that a quid pro quo most certainly did occur.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any linkage that has been alleged is based on many times second or third hand information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one more confirmation that the whistleblower was correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, November 6th. It's 8:00 in the east.
And President Trump is waking up this morning to big setbacks, both at the ballot box and in the impeachment arena. We have a lot of breaking news for you.
First, overnight, the Democrat Andy Beshear has declared victory in Kentucky's governors race over in the incumbent Republican governor Matt Bevin. This is a state that President Trump won in a landslide, 30 points, in 2016. And the president was just there two nights ago to make a push for Bevin. In Virginia, Democrats flipped the House and the Senate there. That's the first time that's happened since 1992. And there is reason this morning for the West Wing to be concerned. A source close to the White House who speaks to the president regularly told our Jim Acosta this is a bad omen for impeachment.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And on the impeachment front, a crucial witness in the inquiry who was a key ally of the president has revised his testimony to confirm there was a quid pro quo imposed on Ukraine. U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland now says he told a Ukrainian official that military aid to the country would likely resume only if Ukraine opened investigations into the Bidens and Democrats and announced that. Investigators have now heard from several witnesses who corroborate Sondland's new testimony. New witness transcripts could be released as early as this morning.
BERMAN: So let's discuss all the breaking news. Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. He serves on both the Intelligence and the Judiciary Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D-CA): Of course. Thanks.
BERMAN: I want to get your reaction to the election, because this was a major political setback for the president. He went and campaigned for Matt Bevin in Kentucky. I'm wondering what this tells you, given that the Democrat there, Andy Beshear, he kept his arm's length from national Democrats. He didn't talk about impeachment. So what message do you take?
BERMAN: Go everywhere. This started in 2017 with Doug Jones winning in Alabama. In 2018 in the midterms, we won in Kansas and Iowa and Texas and new House seats that we picked up. And you see that trend continuing. Hyperlocal, though, as far as some of the issues. In Kentucky Governor Bevins was doing all he could to take away the Affordable Care Act that Andy Beshear's father had put in place as governor. In Virginia, a state that was hurt by gun violence in the Virginia Beach shooting, anti-gun violence measures were on the ballot in a sense that the voters there really did care about that.
Columbus, Indiana, my wife's hometown, home of Vice President Mike Pence, a majority of the city council members there now Democratic. So you are seeing it at the local level, people are going from the town squares, town halls to the ballot box making change.
BERMAN: You talk about hyper-localization in some cases. You ran for president. Would you advise the presidential candidates, then, to focus on what might be considered more local or pocketbook issues than impeachment, which you're engaged in now every day as a member of the Intelligence Committee?
SWALWELL: Yes. Conventional wisdom is always to look back at the last election and figure out what did we not do enough of, and then do that in this one. For example, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, yes, we need to go there. But I think this shows that the south is in play. States like Texas and Georgia especially are in play.
BERMAN: I want to get your take now on the major development in the impeachment inquiry. Ambassador Gordon Sondland just reversed himself completely on the issue of whether there was a quid pro quo. He now says in a three-page letter to your committee that he had a conversation with a key aide to President Zelensky of Ukraine where he said that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was very likely tied to a public announcement of these investigations. This is after he testified there was no such discussion. What's the significance of this?
SWALWELL: It aligns with the testimony of most of the other witnesses who were aware of why the aid was being leveraged. The significance is also that he's doing the right thing. And it's often the times in an investigation that witnesses who were not necessarily truthful or forthcoming when they were first interviewed do want to ultimately be truthful and forthcoming and evolve. And so that's very important to demonstrate to other witnesses who may are lied to us or may have not told us everything that you can evolve. You can come forward and do the right thing. It's never too late to do that.
BERMAN: He used very careful language or specific language in describing this. He said he presumed that the aid suspension had become linked to the anti-corruption statement. In the evidence that you heard that you can tell us about, have you seen any evidence that the president directed the aid suspension inspect connection with the investigation?
SWALWELL: Yes, witnesses who have told us, I believe Ambassador Taylor in his opening statement, that Ambassador Sondland said coming from the president, everything is connected to the investigations. So the Ukrainians have to not only get a White House visit and security assistance, they have to investigate President Trump's political opponents. So that's a direct --
BERMAN: Coming specifically from the president? Because Sondland didn't testify to that. Sondland is not testifying the president told me to link the aid.
SWALWELL: And Sondland is testifying that he had a number of conversations with the president around that time. He wasn't specific as to what the president told him, and he said he's not sure where he got the information.
What we have seen in investigations, I saw this as a prosecutor and we're seeing it in this investigation, even when someone is not completely forthcoming and then they come and revise and they give new information, there's still information that they may hold and they may just not want to say it yet. We want Ambassador Sondland if he does come in under oath to give us the complete, unvarnished truth. We have this evidence, though, from other witnesses who have said that Sondland has put himself out there as an agent of the president. The president said you're my guy on Ukraine. So it makes sense that the president --
BERMAN: Why does it matter whether the president himself directed a quid pro quo?
SWALWELL: We're looking at the president's conduct and no one else's conduct. But we have a sharp, straight line from the president to Rudy Giuliani. The president tells a number of people, Rudy is the guy on Ukraine, and then we have witnesses saying that Rudy is saying that the aid is also tied -- the White House meeting and the aid is tied to investigations.
BERMAN: How important is a quid pro quo, period, in order for you to make your case in an article of impeachment?
SWALWELL: It's an abuse of power to remove an ambassador for political reasons because you don't like what they're doing, period. It's a gross abuse of power if you ask a political ally like the Ukrainians to investigate your opponent. It's a gross, extreme abuse of power if you leverage a White House meeting, which may not seem like much to us as Americans, but to other countries, that's the most important thing. It's an extraordinary abuse of power if you unlawful -- or if you remove an ambassador the way the president did, ask for investigations, leverage a White House meeting and $391 million in taxpayer dollars. That's what we're investigating.
BERMAN: Republicans say maybe that's all bad, but it's not impeachable.
SWALWELL: Well, that's not America either if we allowed that to happen.
BERMAN: We understand that Jim Jordan might be placed on the Intelligence Committee so that he can take part in the public version of the impeachment hearings. What's your reaction to that?
SWALWELL: They can exhume Clarence Darrow. I don't know if he made it into Moe's book or not, but they can bring anyone they like to be on their side. It's not going to change the facts what the president did. He tried to leverage our taxpayer dollars to have a foreign government help him in his election.
BERMAN: Do you need any more witnesses, or are you ready to go forward?
SWALWELL: We have asked John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney, and our approach here is that if there are witnesses who can help the president, the president will allow them to come forward and he won't block them. He has blocked a number of them from coming forward. And if they don't come forward, we'll look at that two ways. One, it may be a consciousness of guilt that the president doesn't want them to testify because it would hurt them, and, two, it would be under consideration for obstruction of Congress as it relates to another article of impeachment.
BERMAN: Congressman Eric Swalwell, great to see. Good to see you in New York.
SWALWELL: Thanks. Pleasure.
BERMAN: We don't get to see you face-to-face. Appreciate it. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: OK, gentlemen, Democrats take control of Virginia's state legislature for the first time in a generation. The state's governor, Ralph Northam, joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM, (D) VIRGINIA: I'm here to officially declare, November, the 5th, 2019, that Virginia is officially blue. Congratulations!
NORTHAM: When I say "blue," I want you to say "wave." Blue --
NORTHAM: Blue --
NORTHAM: Blue --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That's Virginia Governor Ralph Northam celebrating last night after Democrats seized control of both chambers of Virginia's legislature for the first time in decades. And Governor Northam joins me now. Governor, thank you very much for being with us. I want to know why you think this happened overnight.
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM, (D) VIRGINIA: Well, there's a lot of factors. And thanks for having me on this morning. This is an exciting day for the Commonwealth of Virginia. After 26 years we are officially blue. And this wave started after the election in 2016. I think Virginians woke up and said we will never let this happen again. The blue wave started in 2017. We swung 15 seats in the House of Delegates. That energy continued into 2018. We picked up three new women in our Congress. They've done great work. And it just said into this year.
And so there are a lot of factors. What's going on in Washington right now, no doubt is a factor. And then the gun violence issue in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we had a tremendous tragedy back in May. I asked the legislature to come back to Virginia, to Richmond on July the 9th. They came back and spent less than 90 minutes. People, they were paying attention to that and said enough is enough. And people came out yesterday. I think they're very pleased with the progress that we as Democrats have made over the last couple of years, and they really want us to continue working on that progress.
BERMAN: You brought up a couple of things I want to focus on a little more deeply. First of all, you talked about national politics. You didn't mention the president's name, but I think you were referring to him. So what role do you think he played in the election outcome?
NORTHAM: Well, he's been terrible for our economy in Virginia. And we have done well despite him, but things like the coal mines that are shutting down in the southwest, he promised those individuals that he would help them, and he's done absolutely nothing. For our farmers, I grew up on a farm on Virginia's eastern shore. We grew soybeans. The tariffs have hurt us tremendously. So he's made a lot of promises and then just hasn't been there for the people of Virginia. And they're smart and they realize that. And finally, his coziness with the NRA. Again, we've had this mass
tragedy in Virginia. Last year we lost over 1,000 lives to gun violence. And people have said enough is enough. And I've told the legislators I need people that will come to Richmond and have dialogue, they'll take votes and pass laws to make Virginia safer. And so people spoke yesterday, and I'm just excited. We're going to get a lot of good things done in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
BERMAN: On the issue of gun violence, when will you bring that up, how soon after everyone is inaugurated, and what specifically are you going to push for?
NORTHAM: Well, it's a great question. And, you know, when I brought the legislature back on July the 9th, I put eight pieces of common sense gun legislation, things like universal background checks. We used to have one gun a month in Virginia, that worked very well, getting rid of bump stocks, high volume magazines, red flag laws. These are common sense pieces of legislation.
I will introduce those again in January. And I'm convinced with the majority now in the House and the Senate, they'll become law and because of that, Virginia will be safer.
BERMAN: Big picture. What message did you learn from the outcome in Virginia as it relates to the rest of the country? If people call you very advice and say, hey, Governor Northam, how can we win the race for president? How can Democrats win in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania or Iowa? What would you tell them?
NORTHAM: You know, it's about the economy and jobs and Virginians want a job that they can support themselves and their families with no matter who they are. No matter where they are.
They want to know that their children have access to a world class education system. They want to know that they have access to affordable and quality health care. They want clean energy which we're making great strides on in Virginia.
And finally, they want inclusivity. I mean, race, equity, inclusion, very important. And we pride ourselves in Virginia. We are inclusive. We welcome people to the common wealth of Virginia and as long as Democrats have anything to do with it, that's the way we'll move forward.
BERMAN: Did impeachment hurt you think Democrats or hurt Republicans?
NORTHAM: You know, I think it was a factor. Certainly people are paying attention. I mean, this president has been an embarrassment to this country. And so we sold ourselves to other countries, allies. I mean, it's one thing or another and I think it's catching up with him. So, certainly was a factor.
But I think in Virginia yesterday, people spoke about the progress that we've made, the progress that we'll continue to make. You know, another issue that is very important in Virginia is women's reproductive health care and stopping the discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
Those are important issues and Virginians spoke to those yesterday and we're listening and we're going to pass policy to move Virginia forward.
BERMAN: So, there has been controversy surrounding you since last February I believe it was when there were pictures on this yearbook page of someone in blackface and you've changed your position on whether it was you or not.
But I guess I have two questions on this. Number one, when this issue first developed last February and people were calling for your resignation, did you ever think you'd be here today ushering in a new era of Democratic Party? That first.
NORTHAM: Well, certainly, race and equity is something I've fought for since I have been in public office. Even practicing as a pediatrician, you know, I've always been inclusive. And we've moved forward from that. Certainly race and equity will continue to be a top priority of mine.
But this was about a bigger picture yesterday and I would also take the opportunity to thank Virginians. They stuck with me. They elected me to be their governor -- their 73rd governor. They didn't turn their backs on me. They supported me. They appreciate what we've done, what our leadership has done.
And I think they look forward to me continuing to do some good work. And right now, we have a unique opportunity in Virginia with control of both the House, the Senate and governor's office. Good things are going to happen.
BERMAN: Do you owe them -- or what further explanations do you owe them on this subject?
NORTHAM: Well, we've, obviously talked a lot about that. Good things have hand. Your know, we've taken down an arch at Ft. Monroe which is where the enslaved Africans first arrived. We've got a curriculum process going on where we want to make sure that we're teaching our children the truth about history in Virginia.
So good things are happening, and we'll continue to work on those. As I said, race and equity will be a top priority of mine as we move forward.
BERMAN: Governor Northam, thank you very much for joining us this morning. Really appreciate your time.
NORTHAM: Thank you so much for having me.
CAMEROTA: Very interesting to hear his take on all of that, John. Joining us now, we have CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN political commentator Mitch Landrieu. He's the former Democratic mayor of New Orleans.
Great to have you both here in studio.
So, we've just heard a lot about Virginia and what happened there last night. Let's talk about your take on all of this and particularly Kentucky where the ruby red state voted in a Democratic governor.
MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think -- I don't think what happened in Virginia was unexpected, as great as it was for the Democrats. They have been pushing really, really hard. And I don't know if that's a bellwether.
But Kentucky, from my perspective, is a different opinion. You had a governor there that really was a mini Trump in a state where he was the incumbent and it was a deep red state and he lost. There's no way to count that as a victory for the Republicans, and it gives encouragement to Democrats, especially since it's Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul state, in the midst of all these federal stuff going on.
But as the governor said a minute ago, all politics is local. There were some issues going on. Like Medicaid expansion that moved that race a little.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: One thing that's interesting is hearing the governor talk about voter mobilization around gun control. You know, we often think that voter intensity issue is not there among Democrats to vote on guns. Maybe it's changing and people I talk to say it is changing. There's a lot of resources.
And so, writ large is that an issue that go -- because mobilization is so important, we know that, and if you look at one of the things that happened in Kentucky is in those bluer areas, they had super high turnout. It's, obvious, but it matters. It matters in a state like Kentucky and it's going to matter in the other battleground states.
The other piece of it, the governor is talking about soybean farmers, particularly vulnerable to the tariffs because of how China can respond in a trade war. But in Kentucky again, you had Beshear going to the rural counties and he had a more centrist approach to issues like health care.
So, we have this toxicity around impeachment, around Trump, around who we are, who we're becoming as a country. The other piece of it -- Democrats have been successful running centrist campaigns around issues like health care.
BERMAN: How important is that? Eric Swalwell was sitting in David Gregory's seat moments ago. Eric Swalwell from California --
GREGORY: It does have my name on it, by the way.
BERMAN: But he said go anywhere. The lesson is go everywhere and talk to everyone.
And Beshear, it's not like he ran up huge victories in coal countries, but he did much better than Democrats have in some elections.
LANDRIEU: That's an excellent point. You know, I got elected twice lieutenant governor of Louisiana which is now a red state. My sister got elected a number of times.
You have to go everywhere. If you go to every parish or every county which is what the rest of the country has, and you peel off 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent, then the other margins don't have to be as much and you can speak to folks in the rural areas about the things David talked about before. There are folks who support the second amendment that also support common sense gun restrictions to make sure that people are safe. There are a lot of gun owners that understand responsibility.
The particular farmers in Louisiana who are getting hurt by the tariffs. All of those resonate. Medicaid expansion, a massively popular program in the state of Louisiana that the governor passed. All of those things resonate in rural areas.
But if you don't go and ask them, there's no way they're going to beat them, you have to go everywhere.
GREGORY: You know, there's another piece of this which is pragmatic, which is promises made, promises kept. We're in a strong economy. Markets are very strong. On a national level, President Trump has a huge advantage and will try to carry that forward into 2020.
But if you are hit by -- if your farmers are hit by tariffs and are feeling -- if you are a soybean farmer or if you're in coal country which obviously that's true in Appalachia, in Kentucky as well as in Virginia. So the ability to say, look, you're feeling pain. Trump said he'd fix it. He hadn't fixed it. That's going to be an important argument for Democrats to make.
Let's remember these -- a lot of Obama voters who said, yes, we'll give Trump a shot. They want to see somebody who shake it up and speak to their pain.
LANDRIEU: I had a long conversation with coal miners in Appalachia and they were not pro-Trump or anti-Trump. They were like, nobody sees us. They promised us they were going to do something.
And listen, voters don't have jerseys on the way those of us that stay in politics every day. They will throw you out if they don't think that you're listening to them, or delivering. And I think there are a lot of voters up for grabs and I think last night showed how volatile it's going to be.
CAMEROTA: I think that's really interesting. We just had a group of swing voters on here. We just did a voter panel with them. And I was telling John, they vote for the person, not the party, and they themselves and their issues. I mean, they're much less party-oriented than we sometimes think they thought. LANDRIEU: What else would you expect them to vote for except their
BERMAN: So, we always -- or candidates always run the next election based on the last election to a fault.
BERMAN: So, if you're looking at Andy Beshear right now and you're a Democratic candidate, what message do you take from that? Is it as David is saying, maybe the more centric approach works?
LANDRIEU: Well, it depends on what your state you're in. You have to know the people that you represent. If I was running in California and I was from California, and I was in Los Angeles, I may be responding to my constituents in a different way than if you're running as a Democratic governor in a red state.
You have to listen to what the people say they want and you have on deliver. And, of course, this country is so diverse and so different, it matters where you are and what the voters are interested in.
CAMEROTA: What about the Trump factor? President Trump went to campaign for Matt Bevin this week. In the past, he's been able to move people across the finish line. And so we are supposed to take anything away from this?
GREGORY: Yes, he put himself out there. He can argue the rest of the slate still did well in Kentucky.
Look, I think Trumpism, the Trump form of Republicanism in the country as a brand is going to be up and is being evaluated in these off year elections. It's going to be a choice between him and a Democratic nominee.
But I do think a lot of the toxicity we talk about every day, this sense of who are we as a country, where are we going, identity and culture -- these things matter a lot about turnout.
And I still think that's where the battleground is. And I think what can upset that is whether their core constituencies that will be up for grabs, more culturally conservative, white non-college educated voters who might be turned off by an Elizabeth Warren, less so by a Biden. Those are the things we'll be talking about as we go forward.
BERMAN: Cincinnati suburbs is what matters in Kentucky. So, what does mean going forward? What does it mean in Louisiana? We have an election in a week in Louisiana.
LANDRIEU: We do.
BERMAN: John Bel Edwards is the Democrat up for re-election. What does it all mean for him? LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, the governor's popular. He's done a good job. The economy is good in Louisiana. He expanded Medicaid and people really like him.
Louisiana is a red state but he is an incumbent. And so, that's why Kentucky was such a hit last night because an incumbent lost. Incumbents have a great advantage in elections.
I think the governor is going to be fine. He has a well-financed opponent who has never been in government before. I give the odds to the governor and I think he deserves to get re-elected and I think he will.
CAMEROTA: Mayor Landrieu, David, thank you both very much.
BERMAN: So, a source close to the White House this morning calls the election results a bad omen for impeachment. So, should Republicans be worried going into 2020? We're going to ask a Republican. Former Governor John Kasich joins us next.