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Interview with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD); Washington May Roll Back China Tariffs; Funerals Today in Mexico for Murdered Family. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 7, 2019 - 10:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:31:06]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right. Right now, Jennifer Williams, a senior advisor to the vice president, is testifying behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. She's talking about the July 25th call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine because she was on that call.

Let's talk about that and a lot more. I'm pleased to be joined by Maryland Democratic senator Ben Cardin. Of course, he's a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Good morning to you, sir. We have a lot to get through. I appreciate you being here.

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Poppy, it's good to be with you.

HARLOW: So obviously, you have, you know, members of these three House committees still gathering evidence. If the president's impeached, this will go to a trial in the Senate, which you will be a part of. Have you seen enough evidence yet, Senator, to impeach and remove the president from office?

CARDIN: Well, first, the decision's up in the House of Representatives, whether there is enough information and grounds for impeachment. So the Senate is totally guided by what happens in the House.

We would have to judge it based upon the specifics of an article of impeachment to determine whether the facts are established --

HARLOW: Right.

CARDIN: -- and whether it's an impeachable offense.

HARLOW: Yes.

CARDIN: So I would hope the members of the Senate would withhold judgment until after the House has taken action or decided what it should be.

HARLOW: And to your point -- and this is part of why I asked -- your fellow Democratic senator, Elizabeth Warren, said this in response to a question from a reporter last month, about whether she thought there was enough evidence to convict and remove at this point. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Do you see enough evidence to convict yourself?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.

Look, I think the evidence is clear. What he has done, has committed impeachable offenses and he should be impeached.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Is it a mistake for her and any sitting senator to make such a statement before trial were to even begin?

CARDIN: Well, in fairness to Senator Warren, a lot of my colleagues, including many, many Republicans, have expressed strong opinions about whether this is impeachable or not.

The -- to me, it's very clear that what the president did is wrong. You cannot ask a foreign leader to get engaged in our political process. It's wrong for the president to say there was no quid pro quo. And now, his defenders are saying it makes no difference if there was a quid pro quo or not, that the aid would only be released if they did an investigation on President Trump's potential opponent.

So what he did was clearly wrong. I don't want to judge whether it's impeachable or not because that's up to the House of Representatives.

HARLOW: Right.

CARDIN: I have to determine if they do file articles of impeachment, whether --

HARLOW: Right.

CARDIN: -- he should be convicted.

HARLOW: So you're withholding judgment at this point in time, I hear you loud and clear.

Let's turn to another really important issue of course, Senator, and that is the fact that the Turkish president, Tayyip Erdogan, is going to visit the White House on Wednesday. After all that Turkey did in northern Syria, he is still invited and, as far as we know, coming to the White House.

Ahead of this visit, your committee, the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, has postponed consideration of a bill that would impose new sanctions on Turkey, at least until Erdogan leaves. What would need to come out of that visit, that conversation with the president at the White House, to stop you guys from ultimately imposing those sanctions? CARDIN: Well, I can tell you there's bipartisan opposition in the United States Senate to this meeting between President Erdogan and President Trump. You shouldn't have a meeting under the circumstances of the Turks invading Syria against our national security interests, doing business with --

HARLOW: Right.

CARDIN: -- Russia, violating our arms understanding and CAATSA statute.

So we think it's wrong. We had a markup scheduled. There's bipartisan support to take action against Turkey, that's going to happen. It should happen sooner rather than later. And I regret the fact that the visit's taking place and that we've postponed this hearing.

HARLOW: And it passed the House with a veto-proof majority.

Let's turn to 2020. You've been very complimentary of Joe Biden for a long time. Back in February, you said this. Quote, "I don't know if anyone is more qualified or has a better understanding of the role of the president than Joe Biden."

[10:35:09]

We have a new poll out of Iowa. These are likely caucus-goers in that very important state. And he's in fourth, he's at 15 percent behind Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. Why do you think that is, Senator?

CARDIN: Well, this is a long process. And the way that we do our nominations, putting a lot of emphasis on the early states, is an anomaly that we have in our system. So it's something --

HARLOW: But it is what it is, right?

CARDIN: It is --

HARLOW: And that state matters.

CARDIN: -- right, absolutely. So it's a long process. We have -- look, I'm for the Democratic nominee. I think it's critically important that we don't allow Donald Trump to have a second term. Our democracy, to me, and our values are very much in question. So I'm enthusiastically in support of all of our candidates at this point.

Joe Biden is well qualified to be president of the United States. I served with him in the -- on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he did an outstanding job as chairman of that committee. I worked with him as vice president, sat in the Situation Room with him. He understands the issues and he's very well qualified to be president of the United States.

HARLOW: Well, listen to this. So Congresswoman Debbie Dingell from Michigan said something really interesting to Jim on the show this week about something she thinks her fellow Democrats need to do more of and better at. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): 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 --

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Yes.

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Criticism, frankly, of members of your own party?

CARDIN: I think Debbie Dingell's right. We have to be out there, showing how we relate to the lives of the people in this country. We have to explain what we're doing to keep them safe with gun safety legislation, and what we're doing to protect our environment, on environmental legislation. What we're doing in our workforce to protect workers in this country.

These are critical issues that we need to talk about. The House has acted on these bills, controlled by Democrats. The Senate, controlled by Mitch McConnell, has been a graveyard on all these issues. And that message needs to get across to the American voters.

HARLOW: All right. Let me ask you something that has not gotten a lot of attention, but it's important. And this comes out of Democrat's sweeping control of the state legislature in the state of Virginia. That paves the way for Virginia, Senator, as you know, to become the 38th and final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment that has just been DOA for decades now.

Of course, if people don't know what it is, it would ban discrimination on the basis of sex, and guarantee women equal rights under the Constitution, which are not guaranteed explicitly at this point.

But you need Congress to vote to remove the ratification deadline. You're pushing for that. How likely it is that you think this actually happens? Especially because you do have some states that voted for it decades ago --

CARDIN: Right.

HARLOW: -- that have since rescinded those decisions?

CARDIN: Well, Poppy, this is a very -- most Americans believe we have an equal rights amendment in our Constitution. We do not. We are -- there's been no Democratic state that adopted a constitution since World War II that doesn't include equal rights amendment. Many of our states have it. I've joined with Senator Murkowski to say, let's eliminate the

arbitrary time limit on ratification of amendment that was submitted in the 1970s, that has 37 states that have ratified it. We need one more state. Virginia now has renewed interest in ratifying that. We can at long last have the equal rights in our Constitution, where it belongs.

The American people want this. It's part of who we are as a nation, our values of equal rights for all. It's time we get it done and we can get it done this year. I think the support's out there among the American people. Bring it up for a vote, we'll pass it.

HARLOW: Senator Ben Cardin, so nice to have you. Thanks very much.

CARDIN: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: It would be nice to see that ERA.

[10:39:13]

Coming up, the first images in to CNN of the seven-month-old survivor of that bloody massacre of a Mormon family in Mexico.

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HARLOW: Today could be another record-breaking day for U.S. markets.

SCIUTTO: This, after Chinese officials announced that Washington and Beijing have discussed rolling back tariffs, part of this ongoing trade war. CNN's Cristina Alesci, here with more.

There had been some talk for a time about the president not imposing new tariffs. But this would be more significant because it would roll back existing tariffs.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that's why the market is so happy about this news, because it is a significant, if true, de-escalation of the trade war. A couple things I have to say about this. One is, this is contingent on phase one of the trade deal actually being signed, so there's a lot of euphoria this morning around this news. But the reality is that there's a major contingency around this rollback of existing tariffs.

The other thing that's a really big story here is the Chinese clearly feel emboldened because Trump is politically weak right now. We have the impeachment hearings that are about to burst into public view, you know, the Republicans just lost in Virginia significantly --

HARLOW: Yes.

ALESCI: -- the House and the Senate. And the Kentucky elections look poised to go to, you know, a Democratic governor.

[10:45:02]

So all of that, the Chinese are watching. And they're seeing. And they're potentially trying to put pressure on the administration to go bigger and give them a bigger concession here.

HARLOW: Can you -- it's a very fundamental question, sorry if it sounds like a dumb question.

ALESCI: Never a dumb question --

HARLOW: What does phase one --

ALESCI: -- from you.

HARLOW: -- sometimes. What does phase one of this trade deal actually accomplish?

ALESCI: I -- I am so happy that you brought that up.

HARLOW: Do we (ph) know?

ALESCI: Because it makes me cringe, just saying that word. Because no one really understands fundamentally what that means.

What it means is, the administration is trying to message that things are going in the right direction. It is more of, like, a political P.R. kind of, you know, designation more than a substantive one.

I think what is important here is that Trump seems to be realizing that what is a no-brainer ahead of the election is easing the tariffs on consumer goods --

HARLOW: Sure.

ALESCI: -- and giving the farmers some more relief in terms of purchases from China.

SCIUTTO: Purchases, right.

ALESCI: He needs to do that before the election, so --

SCIUTTO: And the point about this is that those were all created problems, right?

HARLOW: I was just going to say that.

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: So if you're rolling back tariffs and restarting purchases that already happened, it's not really phase one of anything.

HARLOW: That's a great point.

Thanks, appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: Cristina Alesci, thanks very much.

There is a lot going on today. Here's "What to Watch."

TEXT: What to Watch... 11:00 a.m. Eastern, House hearing on ICE workplace raids; 2:15 p.m. Eastern, Trump speaks at meeting on victims of communism; 6:00 p.m. Eastern, Trump presents Presidential Citizens Medal.

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HARLOW: Still to come, devastating but you should see a listen to this. Audio from family member in the house, hours after the brutal massacre in Mexico that claimed the lives of nine Americans. We will hear that for the first time, next.

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[10:51:27]

SCIUTTO: This morning, CNN has obtained new video taken just after nine American women and children were brutally murdered in Mexico. This, there, the moment that seven-month-old Faith was found, alive, inside a bullet-ridden car. Her mother, Christina, had hidden the baby girl in the backseat before that baby's mother was shot and killed.

HARLOW: My God. We are also getting new audio messages, shared between the family as they learned what was happening. The person speaking, who you're going to hear from in a moment, is Kendra Lee Miller, that's one of the family members. And the audio that we received of Miller is her portion of the conversation only. The other parts of the conversation are not included here.

This is what took place in the hours after, as family members were frantically trying to find out what had happened to all of their loved ones, and relay that information to their families in the United States. It is, as a warning, incredibly disturbing to listen to.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

KENDRA LEE MILLER, FAMILY MEMBER OF RELATIVES KILLED IN MEXICO (via telephone): Dear God, everybody pray... Officers just came and said my mom's Suburban is blown up, up on the (inaudible) up by the hill. Everyone please pray."

"Nita, (inaudible) her children are gone. They've been burned inside the vehicle. Uncle Jeffrey verified, counted all five bodies. Their bones are burned, their bodies are burned to a crisp. Dear God, pray for us all.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Jesus.

HARLOW: Our Gary Tuchman is outside of a hospital in Tucson, Arizona, again with us this morning, where some of the survivors are being treated. Gary, I think "speechless" is the only word here.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy and Jim. It's immensely difficult to look at that video of that innocent baby. She's seven months old. What is she thinking when she heard the shots? What is she thinking when she heard the screams? She sat in that seat for 11 hours, in that car seat, until somebody came.

And I want to tell you, there is some audio on that video, in Spanish. But it translates, "We found a baby girl, alive. Her mother is dead.

And the baby girl, as we said, is Faith. Her mother was Christina Langford who, as you said, hid her to save her life. She was not hurt. She is not in this hospital. Two other children were not hurt either, they are still in Mexico.

But there are five children in this hospital, including another baby. That baby is Brixon. Brixon, he is nine months old. He is seriously hurt. He was shot in the chest, shot in the wrist. His brother, two sisters also remain in this hospital as we speak.

This WhatsApp conversation that you just heard with Kendra Lee Miller, we only hear her voice. We don't hear the other voices. But this is something we -- I got calls on Monday from members of this family, telling me that they'd been having these conversations because they're in the middle of this right now, that nobody has rescued these family members. So this is the first time we've heard this audio, and we want to play a little more of it to you.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MILLER: Guys, Aunt Donna and Christina are dead. Aunt Donna's son Trevor got here. I don't know how many other of the kids got here, but get that out.

Trevor arrived in La Mora. Aunt Donna and Christina are gone. They are not -- they are dead.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TUCHMAN: And I can personally attest, talking to another family member on the phone, Monday, the franticness you understandably hear in the phone call, it was going on for hours on Monday.

Right now, as we speak, funerals are about to take place 140 miles south of us here in Tucson, in their hometown in Mexico. Yesterday, many family members were here. Some still remain in the hospital behind me, visiting the children. Other family members left in a convoy so they could be safe as they drove across the border to go to the funerals today. Jim and Poppy, back to you.

[10:55:10]

SCIUTTO: Jesus. Just heartbreaking.

HARLOW: Gary Tuchman, thank you for that reporting. We'll be right back.

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KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, AT THIS HOUR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thanks so much for joining me.

[11:00:01]

We start this morning with breaking news. New testimony is under way right now on Capitol Hill. And for the first time in the impeachment inquiry, this witness comes from --