Return to Transcripts main page


Site of Mormon Family Massacre; Revelations in Impeachment Investigation; Suburban Revolt Heading into 2020. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 7, 2019 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news that has the markets buzzing this morning. China says it has agreed with the United States to lift existing trade tariffs between both countries in phases. The tariffs were imposed during the president's month long trade war with China. China's commerce ministry did not give a timetable for easing the tariffs, but the news, as it is, is driving global markets up. Dow futures, you can see, up about 145 points so far. Asian and European markets also responding positively to this news.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Funerals begin today for the victims of this week's massacre in northern Mexico. Nine American women and children, members of a Mormon community, were killed by a drug cartel, according to authorities, in this ambush attack.

CNN's Matt Rivers traveled hundreds of miles to the site of the attack and here's what he found.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it took us hundreds of miles of driving on small, winding mountain roads to get to this part of very rural northwest Mexico. And when we arrived, we found an area teeming with a military presence.


RIVERS (voice over): At the checkpoints, soldiers covered their faces. Guns and armor aside. Better to stay anonymous in such a violent place.

Bienvenidos a Bavispe, a town closest to where nine Americans were slaughters on Monday.

RIVERS (on camera): So this place is so locked down right now that we're being given a military escort to the area where at least one of the shootings happened.

RIVERS (voice over): The massacre started here.

RIVERS (on camera): This is the exact spot where Rhonita Miller and four of her kids, ages 12, 10 and two eight-month old twins were killed. They were ambushed by armed gunmen, shot, and their vehicle lit on fire. This is what remains.

RIVERS (voice over): Up the road a few minutes later, two more cars were ambushed. Two mothers and two children also killed by gunfire. Another seven kids escaped. They'd all left just minutes before from Rhonita's home, just a few blocks away.

They were part of a community of hundreds of Americans, largely Mormon, who have lived here for a long time. Julian LeBaron found one of the bodies.

JULIAN LEBARON, FOUND SOME OF THE BODIES: And she was just laying on the ground when we came on her. And I could tell that, you know, I could tell from the blood stains that they aimed for her heart.

RIVERS: The family wants to know who would shoot and kill women and children and then light their bodies on fire? We saw Mexican investigators on the scene on Wednesday.

RIVERS (on camera): Might not look like it, but this area can be one of the most dangerous drug trafficking routes in the entire world. The U.S. is a hundred miles that way and drug cartels have been fighting over this land for a long time. And the government says that could be the reason why the people on this road were killed. They say that maybe one cartel mistook that caravan for another. But, increasingly so, the family of the victims isn't buying it.

RIVERS (voice over): They think the families were specifically targeted by drug cartels, though they don't know why. This community has had run-ins with gangs before, but say this came out of nowhere.

LEBARON: We haven't been threatened, at least not in any way to suppose that women and children would be murdered.

RIVERS: Mexican President Lopez Obrador campaigned on the need to reduce crime in this country, though Mexico's murder rate now stands roughly six times higher than that of the United States. The president insists his strategy of poverty reduction will eventually ease drug violence. But some are losing patience.


RIVERS: And while authorities aren't yet saying who is responsible for this shooting, they are saying that the shooters used American-made firearms, firing some 200 rounds at three women and 14 children.

John. Alisyn.

BERMAN: This is such an extraordinary tragedy. And our thanks to Matt for being one of the first reporters to get on the scene there so we can actually get a sense of the environment where this really just heinous crime took place.

CAMEROTA: It's helpful to see the scene, but it's still so mysterious and so upsetting.

[06:35:00] We talked to Lafe Langford yesterday, who is one of the family members, the loved ones of all these victims. He said, this is not mistaken identity. You could see that there were babies in the car. You could see there were children. They made -- authorities say that they made one of the moms get out with her hands up. You -- at that point you see it's not a drug cartel. So what happened? Why did this happen? Obviously we'll continue to carry this -- cover this story.

BERMAN: All right, this morning, we keep getting new information from the closed door testimony in the impeachment inquiry. We're going to tell you the biggest revelations next that might have the greatest impact when this investigation goes public next week.


BERMAN: This morning we are at a key pivot point in the impeachment hearings. Investigators have heard pretty much all they will hear behind closed doors and now it's all about to go public.

So, where do things stand? What are the biggest revelations so far?


Joining me now is our prosecutor and resident CNN legal analyst Elie Honig.

Councilor, thank you for being with us.

The first public witness is going to be Ambassador William Taylor. What are the biggest revelations from the testimony from him that was just released?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, John, so we'll be hearing from Bill Taylor next week. He'll be the first witness up. And, by the way, I think that's by tactical design. He is the perfect leadoff witness. He's credible. His testimony goes right to the heart of the matter and he's backed up.

So the first thing that Bill Taylor testified about is this irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy making with respect to Ukraine. And that consisted of Volker, Sondland, Perry, and Rudy Giuliani.

And Taylor told us that what that second channel did is the security assistance got blocked by this second channel. Security assistance here, that's the hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid that we've been talking about. And Taylor saw that that was wrong. Taylor testified, to stop it, to hold it for no apparent reason that I could see was undercutting the longstanding U.S. policy. That's a critical point. This aid was being withheld contrary to our best foreign policy interests.

Now, Taylor, one of the great things about Taylor as a witness is he's backed up. He has the receipts. He testified over and over that he took detailed, handwritten notes as this was all happening. As a prosecutor, as an investigator, that's so important in assessing a witness. Also, remember, Taylor sent these texts at the time this was all going

down. He texted, are we now saying that security assistance and White House meeting are conditioned on investigations? Conditioned We talk about quid pro quo. Conditioned is a key word there.

He also texted about a week after that back in September. As I said on the phone, I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. So he is very strongly backed up.

And yesterday this was the most important piece of testimony we saw from Taylor. That was my clear understanding. Security assistance money would not come until the president of Ukraine committed to pursue the investigation. That is what prosecutors call a head shot. It is right on point.

BERMAN: So Taylor will testify he saw a shakedown and he thought it was wrong. Both of those things are key for the Democrats.

Now, Kurt Volker, so special envoy to Ukraine, slightly different.

HONIG: Yes, Volker was a little bit more of a mixed bag. Volker said, first of all, he talked to Trump about this and Trump's only instruction to him was, talk to Rudy. That becomes a common theme. And Rudy really only wanted one thing, he wanted this public announcement of, what? Rudy says, well, if it doesn't say Burisma and it doesn't say 2016, what does it mean? That tells you a lot. All Rudy cared about was the announcement. Burisma, of course, is the company associated with the Bidens and 2016 is the other piece of the investigate they wanted into the DNC server. So Volker gives us that.

Now, Volker also gives really interesting insight into the hold on the security assistance. And Volker, like Taylor, says, everyone that I spoke with in the policy side of the administration, they all thought this really -- it was really important to provide this assistance for their to be a hold placed struck me as unusual and no reason was ever given as to why that was. Consistent with Taylor about the -- how strange it was that this assistance was held back.

Now, the White House has embraced Volker. This is Stephanie Grisham's statement from yesterday. She said, Volker's testimony confirms there could not have been a quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know about the military aid hold at the time. What Volker said is, to my knowledge they did not know. And they've got to keep in mind, the White House -- let's be careful here. This is something Volker texted before then. He said, heard from White House. Assuming President Z convinces Trump he will investigate/get to the bottom of what happened in 2016. We will nail down date for visit to Washington.

So, right here Volker's saying, there was a quid pro quo for the White House visit. So if the White House thinks this guy is their savior, they better think again.

BERMAN: It's also interesting because they went to lean on Volker after Sondland, who they thought was going to be a good witness for them, turned out to be awful. HONIG: Yes, Sondland was all over the map, though. So Sondland gave us

similar testimony. Trump, he just kept saying, talk to Rudy, talk to Rudy. Exact same language, by the way, Volker used. Sondland gave interesting testimony about a continuum. How the demand sort of increased over time. And Sondland said it kept getting more insidious that as the timeline went on and he sort of details that in his testimony.

Now, again, Sondland, the poor guys' going to go down in history for these two words, right, call me. And this gets to his credibility problem. They asked Sondland, what did you mean by that? And he said, well, I'm more of a face-to-face guy. The problem is, Sondland's texting all over the place. The reason I think he said call me here is he doesn't want an electronic record of this. He's got credibility problems everywhere. He says, I knew about Burisma, but I didn't know there was a Biden connection. He says, nobody ever expressed misgivings. Various witnesses have contradicted that.

And, of course, he had to supplement his testimony for the wee important detail that, oh, there was a quid pro quo. So he's a credibility mess. It sort of cuts both ways.

BERMAN: Sondland (ph) is another way of saying completely reverse. So Taylor and Marie Yovanovitch, former ambassador to Ukraine, they are going to be the public witnesses next week. What does she got?

HONIG: So Marie Yovanovitch has this like cloak and dagger tale of about she was pushed out as the ambassador to Ukraine. She says one -- she learns one of the senior Ukrainian officials was very concerned and told me I needed to watch my back.


She also learns from a United States official, this is about your security. You need to come home immediately. You need to come home on the next plane.

She also saw -- she told -- she testified she saw this clip where the president mentioned her negatively in the call to Zelensky and it worried her. And she said, I was very concerned. I still am. She was asked, did you feel threatened? And she said, yes. So that's going to be a really interesting piece of testimony next week, too, John.

BERMAN: And one of the most interesting things to me will be to see how the Republicans treat Taylor and Yovanovitch in the public testimony. Not an easy thing for them.

Elie Honig, thank you so much for helping us understand all this.

HONIG: Thanks, John. All right.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, guys, after Tuesday's elections, some Republicans say they have their work cut out for them with suburban voters. So, up next, a CNN report from a key swing district in Georgia. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: President Trump is throwing his weight behind the Republican candidate in Louisiana governor's race, holding a huge rally there and dismissing concerns about this week's losses in Kentucky and Virginia. But some Republicans are worried about suburban voters in some key battleground states.

CNN's Martin Savidge went to one Georgia suburb where Democrats flipped a crucial seat in 2018 to see how voters feel today.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Democrat Lucy McBath's victory last fall in Georgia's 6th congressional district wasn't just significant, it was seismic.

SAVIDGE (on camera): How do I know? Because this is my district. I've lived in the sixth for over 20 years.

SAVIDGE (voice over): Located in Atlanta's northern suburbs, decades ago it brought America Newt Gingrich. Mitt Romney and John McCain carried the sixth comfortably. President Trump by only a single point.

SAVIDGE (on camera): McBath is the first Democrat to win here in 40 years. And her victory helped Democrats win back the House.

TAMARA STEVENS, GA-06 VOTER: Electing Lucy, that was just the beginning.

SAVIDGE (voice over): Driving that historic flip, a growing army of activists college-educated, mostly mothers, some Georgia natives, other transplants, some even from other parties.


STEVENS: My husband tells everyone I am a gun -- I was a gun-toting, Limbaugh-listening Republican.

SAVIDGE: But like the district, Tamara Stevens has changed.

STEVENS: I -- honestly, I do not recognize the Republican Party of today.

SAVIDGE: Stevens actively campaigned for McBath and she definitely believes the president should be impeached. Even though she knows it will energize Republican voters, she's not worried.

STEVENS: We are on a roll and there's a whole wave of women that have been activated even since Lucy's election.

SAVIDGE: Impeachment looms large here because Lucy McBath is one of those House Democrats elected in a Trump-voting district where impeachment is a tight rope walk, especially since McBath serves on the House Judiciary Committee. STEVENS: She has kept her head down and she's continued to work. And

that is -- and that's the thing that Republicans -- they can't -- they can't -- they can't argue with that.

SAVIDGE: Actually, they do.

DEBBIE FISHER, GA-06 VOTER: It is a sham. And it's not as much the impeachment itself as the process that they're going to that is unprecedented in the history of this country.

SAVIDGE: Debbie Fisher is also a politically active sixth district suburbanite. And she sees the impeachment issue completely different.


SAVIDGE: Joining protesters outside McBath's local congressional office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't want to hear from people!


SAVIDGE: She believes Americans are suffering from Trump investigation fatigue and the impeachment inquiry will backfire on Democrats, hurting McBath's re-election hopes.

FISHER: I see more Democrats, more moderates in the Democrat Party coming this way and more independents coming Trump's way because of the tactics that have been used in trying to unseat our president.


SAVIDGE: Lucy McBath's victory here in the sixth district wasn't just historic, it was close. I mean, really close. She won by just 3,264 votes. Which is why many Republicans believe she's vulnerable in 2020. In fact, the Republican Party has targeted her House seat as one they believe they can win. Or, in this case, win back. Which is why voters' passions over impeachment, either for or against, could make all the difference.

John. Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right, our thanks to Martin Savidge and the truck he was leaning on there in Georgia.

Joining us now, CNN political commentators Aisha Moodie-Mills, a Democratic strategist, and Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state representative who has endorsed Kamala Harris.

That was a very interesting piece about impeachment, but I think you can broaden it out even more to this discussion that has been highlighted even more by the election results in Kentucky and Virginia, which get to which kind of Democratic candidate can succeed around the nation. Is it someone talking about impeachment? Medicare for all? Or is it perhaps someone more middle of the road for lack of a better word? I want to do a dramatic reading from an essay that appears on as of this morning.

CAMEROTA: Oh. Fantastic.

BERMAN: And I quote, let's be clear, Democratic voters in Lexington, Kentucky, are not your Democratic voters in the Bronx. If Democrats are serious about defeating Trump, flipping the U.S. Senate, expanding our lead in the U.S. House, we must understand that purity tests, making sure that a candidate's ideology lines up perfectly with their party's, do not work.

CAMEROTA: Who's the genius --


CAMEROTA: Who's the genius that wrote that?

SELLERS: Langston Hughes -- Langston Hughes-ish.

BERMAN: That was written by Bakari Sellers.

SELLERS: Oh, my goodness.

So I wholeheartedly agree with what was written by Bakari Sellers. Let me first say that.

But, Democrats, we fall into these trap of having these purity tests. And we cannot do that.

What happens in Virginia, what happens in Kentucky, it may not work in other parts of the country, so we have to have people who run on issues that are hyper local. We have to have people who are running on issues that matter to their electorate.

Andy Beshear did not come in and say, oh my God, I'm more left than my electorate. That's not what he did. What he did is he came and he said, I am the best candidate. I have the boldest ideas for what's happening in Kentucky.

And I do think Democrats -- we -- right now we do have a monopoly on the biggest and boldest ideas and we need to run on those things. And I think that that is -- that is very, very important. And while we have a super unpopular president who is gutting public education, who is gutting health care, like Matt Bevin was doing, we need to have someone who's making sure that they are soothing the fears of the country, bringing us together, but also being bold. I mean you can be bold and be progressive. But we don't have to out-left each other.

CAMEROTA: Is that the message you took away from Tuesday's election results?

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. And I also think, you know, you actually went out and talked to some average Americans who happened to be conservative women. I think -- CAMEROTA: Well, no, not exactly. They are actually swing voters.

MOODIE-MILLS: Oh, they're swing voters.

CAMEROTA: They're swing voters from two key swing districts in Pennsylvania and they're that all-important demographic of white women, non-college educated.

MOODIE-MILLS: Sure. I think that what we also need to do as Democrats is we need to focus on the Democratic base because there is such a conversation around this gray area and these swing voters and what I think is becoming increasingly a narrow, narrow, narrow middle but still continues to be a strategy that we play to most.


I think the Democrats need to focus on what we're -- what I believe that we're seeing is if you focus on stimulating the Democratic base, which is actually quite large, not ignoring the rest of America, but there are going to be about 35 percent of the population that Democrats are just never going to win in the first place, and focus on leading with issues, having values, but really trying to build out the Democratic base. If turnout comes out, then the Democrats win. That is ultimately what's going to happen at the end of the day.

CAMEROTA: Hold on. Can I just correct myself. Non-college degreed, OK? That's what -- these white women who you're about to see at 7:30, not non-college educated. Some did go to college with non-degree.

SELLERS: By the way, this is fascinating, but I -- what she's saying is that Democrats need to make sure black people show up at the polls.

CAMEROTA: And how do they do that?

SELLERS: We need to make sure that we have a candidate who energizes, who talks to those issues. There were 4 million voters -- 4 million voters who voted for Barack Obama who did not vote for Hillary Clinton. Of those 4 million, a third look like me and you. They were black voters. And while we're out here chasing these unicorns, I love the panels on the Trump-Obama voters. Those are unicorns practically in this -- in this entire voter spectrum.

CAMEROTA: But they're swing voters.

SELLERS: Yes, that's --

CAMEROTA: That's who decides.

SELLERS: That's amazing. But if we --

MOODIE-MILLS: Sure, but when we look at the states that -- when we look at the states that were really the differential -- so if you're looking at the Philadelphia region in Pennsylvania, if you're looking at Detroit and Michigan --

SELLERS: Milwaukee. MOODIE-MILLS: If you're looking at Milwaukee, who's not turning out

there? It's not the -- it's not necessarily the swing voters. Who were those -- those suburban moms? It's, you didn't really maximize those urban communities. Most of which were African-American.

I think that the issues absolutely matter. And I believe that those swing voters follow she issue. But if you're not really focused on turning out people --


MOODIE-MILLS: Who should come out all the time to vote, and just happen to sit home, then you're not going to win.

BERMAN: Well, the most successful candidates are the ones who figure out a way to make it not a choice between these two groups, if you can. I'm not saying that's an easy thing to do.

SELLERS: Well, and there was a choice in 2016. Unfortunately, it was a choice between Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and the couch. And the couch won out. And we have to keep that in mind as we move through. Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Detroit are very important parts of the country for Democrats if they want to win this election and those areas are largely populated by African-Americans and we've got to make sure they turn out. That -- that is -- while we're talking about the unicorns, we need to also make sure that we focus on these (INAUDIBLE).

CAMEROTA: I hear what you're saying. I will have a voter panel coming up on exactly --

SELLERS: At 7:30.


BERMAN: You just booked the next voter panel.

CAMEROTA: You just booked the next voter panel. I will have that demographic you're talking about.

SELLERS: You know what you should -- can I -- can I include --

CAMEROTA: Tell me. Give me --

SELLERS: And you will agree with this, I think.

CAMEROTA: Everybody's (INAUDIBLE) --

SELLERS: We need to make sure we need -- we have more African-American men.


SELLERS: Because African-American men and them sitting out the election --


SELLERS: Or the ones that may tune in and vote for Donald Trump are going to be very crucial to watch. And so --

CAMEROTA: OK. That's my next voter panel. You just booked it.

SELLERS: I'm with you.

MOODIE-MILLS: And I think what's really important too is that, as we look at the Democratic candidates right now, everyone is kind of jumping on certain candidates. Oh, you don't know any black people you can't win. I think it's still really early. And we need to watch the folks who have a lot of money to spend throughout this contest to see how they're going to engage their ground game because it's still very early. And I wouldn't rule anyone out. And I wouldn't suggest that Joe Biden is the only person that can reach the African-American community, because that's not true.

SELLERS: I agree with the latter part of that. I would -- I don't think Joe Biden is the only one who can reach those, but I do think that you can rule people out. I think that we've -- I think that you have to have these contacts, forge these contacts for a very long period of time and it's very difficult for individuals who don't have those contacts -- as they're telling me we have to go now.

BERMAN: That's a tease for the next segment.

SELLERS: I know. Are we going to be here all day? Do you want us to co-host?

CAMEROTA: Yes, you could. If you could just sit there, that would be awesome. Thank you.


BERMAN: Bakari, Aisha, thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: On standby.

SELLERS: You should play that op-ed piece more often. It was brilliant.

BERMAN: Written by Bakari Sellers.

CAMEROTA: All right, here are the comics' take on the Democratic gains in Tuesday's election. Here are your "Late Night Laughs."


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": There were elections all over the country and America got hit by another blue wave. Surf's up. Surf's up, Democrats. Grab your boogie boards and get ready for Bernie Sanders in a speedo.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": Yes, last night was a good night for the Democrats. They won the governor's race in Kentucky. And they managed to change the Virginia state house from red to blue. Yes, it was a big night for them. This was big. From red to blue. And, remember, this is in a place where the governor's face went from white to black.

COLBERT: Just a few weeks ago Graham told "Axios" this.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.

COLBERT: Well, the transcripts clearly show that, but --

GRAHAM: I'm not going to read these transcripts.

COLBERT: How tragic. Graham is clearly working through the five stages of Republican impeachment grief. Anger, denial, won't read, can't read, no hablo ingles.


BERMAN: A joke?


BERMAN: Sort of?



Televised impeachment hearings begin next week.

NEW DAY continues right now.



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Those first dates have been set for those first public hearings. The White House is essentially bracing themselves.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNCILOR TO THE PRESIDENT: You cannot impeach a president and remove him from office.