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Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Discusses Next Week's Televised Impeachment Hearings; Roger Stone Trial Links Trump To 2016 Effort To Get Stolen E-mails; Two Former Twitter Employees Accused Of Spying For Saudi Arabia. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 7, 2019 - 07:30   ET

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


[07:30:00]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CRYSTAL ARLINGTON, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: -- always been so candid about I can do that movie star or I can do this. He's just -- he's just --

GAYLYNN BLASKI, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: He's a reality star.

ARLINGTON: -- Donald Trump.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: You like that he's unapologetic.

ARLINGTON: I like that he's unapologetic.

CAMEROTA: So in terms of any personal indiscretions, in terms of paying hush money to a porn star -- all that stuff -- show of hands. How many people are bothered by that?

(Two hands raised)

CAMEROTA: What bothers you?

ANDREA CAPWILL, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: He was asked did you, like -- just like Bill Clinton, pretty much. Did you have sex with this woman? Did you pay her off?

And he said no. And it came out he did. And people are like oh, you know what, it's not a big deal. But he did lie to us.

ALISON GREEN, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: There's no remorse, there's no regret. There is no humility.

MARIAN TAYLOR, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: I don't vote for personalities. I vote for who is going to get the job done.

CAMEROTA: And why are you on the fence today?

TAYLOR: I am always on the fence until I make the decision. I like to wait for the debates. I want to see who is out there. GREEN: But I mean, there's so many candidates right now. I can't even pretend to know everything about all of them or even most of the things about all of them.

CAMEROTA: Is there any Democrat that speaks to you or that appeals to you?

BLASKI: Pete Buttigieg.

CAPWILL: I like Pete Buttigieg.

BLASKI: Mayor Pete -- I mean, that guy, he's a Harvard graduate, he was in the military, he's smart. He's just articulate, he has great ideas. He just speaks to me.

CAMEROTA: Show of hands, how many people like Pete Buttigieg?

(Four hands raised).

CAMEROTA: Marian, is there any Democrat, thus far, that has appealed to you or that you think jumps out?

TAYLOR: Biden, right now, seems to jump out. But, you know, it can change because I think -- you know, they keep saying they're going to bring on someone that they haven't announced yet and --

CAMEROTA: Who's they?

TAYLOR: The Democratic Party.

LISA MARIE HALECKY, PENNSYLVANIA SWING VOTER: I didn't hear that.

TAYLOR: So I'm just waiting. But it's gotten to the point where you don't know who to believe anymore.

HALECKY: I'm going to be totally honest. Once again, I listen to media, I listen to people here-there in restaurants, and I'm kind of forming my opinions from other people's opinions. And then I just started researching and looking and looking at different articles.

And going to Hillary Clinton, I always thought Benghazi -- Hillary, that was her deal -- the e-mails and everything. But once you read enough articles and you look at a lot of things, she really didn't do anything wrong, you know? Interestingly enough, I was actually shocked by that, you know, because I -- this is what I heard and this is what I thought.

CAMEROTA: We are in this polarized world right now where everybody only goes to their own news source that they think that speaks to them.

HALECKY: And I do think a lot of Americans just don't have the time or the energy or have the right --

BLASKI: Interest.

HALECKY: -- information or interest. It's going to be a full-time job for some people.

BLASKI: Yes. I think --

CAMEROTA: I think that's really a great point.

OK, so let's -- lightning round. One word -- and we'll go around -- to describe how you see the 2020 race.

Do you want to start, Alison?

GREEN: Sure, polarizing.

BLASKI: Confusing.

CAMEROTA: Too much information out there, you're saying.

BLASKI: Yes.

HALECKY: Intriguing.

ARLINGTON: Trump.

(LAUGHTER)

CAPWILL: I would have to just say change.

TAYLOR: I don't know if I can say it in one word. I really just think it's going to be enlightening.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA: So do I.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, that's enlightening.

CAMEROTA: It's enlightening.

BERMAN: Listening to these conversations, you really learn so much. And you see voters trying to process all the information and think about the choices they're going to make. I really am captivated by what I saw there in many ways.

I will say, once again, these are voters that I think President Trump needs. He basically needs to go five for six or six for six with them.

CAMEROTA: That's what Harry Enten and Ron Brownstein tell us, that those women that are in those swing districts are who he needs and at the moment, he has one of them, solidly -- one.

BERMAN: Right.

CAMEROTA: But I really appreciate their candor. I really appreciate them coming on national T.V. and saying all of that and saying that they are overwhelmed by all the information and all of the candidates. And, of course, nobody has the time and bandwidth to be able to look up information about all of them, so they look forward to it playing out and being whittled down.

BERMAN: And, Crystal, who, again, is getting a lot of the press for saying that the president's fantabulous and could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and she wouldn't care. He has her, but he needs more people than her. He needs to expand beyond that and it will be interesting to see if he can.

All right. Republicans have publicly maintained their support for President Trump during the impeachment investigation, but what about in private? We're going to speak to one Democratic senator about what he's hearing behind the scenes, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:38:45]

BERMAN: The first public impeachment hearings begin next week with the first witnesses set to testify about the president's efforts to shake down the Ukrainian government to investigate a political rival. So, what can we expect if and when this case heads to trial in the Senate?

Joining me now is Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat from Ohio. He is the author of the new book, "Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America." Senator, I loved the book and will nerd out on it --

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH), AUTHOR, "DESK 88: EIGHT PROGRESSIVE SENATORS WHO CHANGED AMERICA": Thank you.

BERMAN: -- in just a second.

First, I want to ask you, in terms of impeachment, you said you will look at the evidence when and if it comes to trial in the Senate. But you also say the evidence shows you a fact pattern that even Richard Nixon wouldn't have committed. What do you mean by that?

BROWN: Well, I'm not a lawyer but I understand this whole process.

Impeachment is comparable to indictment in a court of law and that's often done in secret. Obviously, the impeachment hearings will be public, as they should.

Then the trial begins. The trial is open. Both sides get to present their cases -- the House impeachment members who will be prosecutors, in essence, in the Senate chamber -- and then the president has his lawyers.

I have said the impeachment is the right thing to do because I think that Donald Trump did things even beyond what Richard Nixon did in terms of talking to foreign powers and asking them for their help in his personal campaign and his personal reelection.

[07:40:10]

I don't know if it grounds for removal -- if it reaches the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. That's why you hold the trial.

I'm hopeful that senators in both parties, all 100 of us, go into this with an open mind, not listening to our constituents and not -- it's the only time I'll ever advocate that -- not listening to our constituents, not reading our mail about it.

Not being swayed by public opinion but looking at the evidence just like a judge and a jury would do in a criminal trial. It's that -- it's that simple, in some sense, that our obligation is to do that.

BERMAN: It will take 20 Republicans to convict and remove the president if it does come to that.

BROWN: Well, it will take, but it also will take every (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Right.

BROWN: I don't think it's absolute that every Democrat votes to impeach or votes to convict and remove.

As I said, I hope that both parties go into this with an open mind, listening to the evidence, judging by the evidence on did this president commit something that should result in his removal from office.

BERMAN: So far -- so far, Republicans are, generally speaking, rock- solid in their defense of the president publicly. But you've said that on occasion, Republicans say different things in private than they say in public. What do you mean by that?

BROWN: Well, well more -- way more often than occasionally. I mean, I -- most -- I can't say most. I can say, for sure, a number of Republican senators whom I've talked to think this president has trouble telling the truth and think that he's acted improperly or worse. They're embarrassed by it.

Some number of Republicans think that he's a racist. I happen to believe that there's no doubt about that.

So they say that privately. They don't say that publicly, in part, because they're afraid of his base -- of his -- their base and their base losing a primary.

And partly, they like the tax cuts for the rich that this president's done. They like his attacks on the environment and on labor rights. And they like the young right-wing judges that he's selected and nominated.

BERMAN: So that's what you may be hearing in private. But in public, they say things like this.

I want to play sound from Sen. John Kennedy last night where Sen. Kennedy really attacks the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi -- someone who you've expressed a lot of -- a lot of praise for in the past. So listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): And you know what our Democratic friends have done for him? Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to impeach him. I don't mean any disrespect but it must suck to be that dumb.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That doesn't sound like a senator who has an open mind about the evidence.

BROWN: And I -- John Kennedy is on the Banking Committee with me and he's smarter than that. He's funnier than that in person. He's -- he seems to have more principles than that. I -- he plays to the crowd, I guess, when you stand next to Donald Trump and when you have that kind of crowd reaction you play to it.

I'm disappointed because I like John, and for him -- for him to say that about Nancy Pelosi is so off the mark. She's the best. I say in my book, "Desk 88," she is -- she is probably the best -- even more than Lyndon Johnson -- the best leader of a political party in either House and this Congress in 100 years.

BERMAN: I want to talk about the book, "Desk 88" and desk 88 is your Senate desk. And you write about eight other progressive senators who have shared that desk.

I just want to start by asking the moment when you first opened the desk in 2007, I guess, when you were becoming a U.S. senator, and you saw those names there. I think we have a picture of the desk here and there are a lot of names there, including Robert Kennedy, William Proxmire, Al Gore, Sr.

What it's like in that moment where you open a desk like that and see those names and you think my gosh, I'm actually going to sit here?

BROWN: Well, yes, it was pretty exciting. Where I'd been in the Senate probably two weeks and you choose based on seniority where you're going to sit. And I'd heard it really doesn't matter -- there are no bad seats.

And so I pulled open three or four desk drawers because I'd heard that senators write their names sort of like middle school -- carve their names in the desk drawer. And I had said Black of Alabama; McGovern, South Dakota; Gore, Tennessee; and just Kennedy.

So I said to Ted Kennedy, then in the Senate -- and he walks over and I said Ted, which brother's desk is this? And he looks and he says well, it's got to be Bobby's desk. I have Jack's.

So I started thinking about who some of these senators were. Some of them I knew a lot about -- not many. A few I knew nothing about.

And I selected eight of them -- no particular reason it was eight -- and began writing and thinking and researching. And 10 years later, the book was finished. So I didn't -- I didn't speed write this. I thought a lot about it and I read 150 books to prepare for it. But I wrote it mostly because I believe that the power of government

can make a difference positively in people's lives.

And it's the reason I wear this canary pin that's a depiction of a canary in a birdcage. The mine workers took the canary down and didn't have a union or a government that could protect them. And this symbolizes to me the role of government in positive impact on people's lives.

[07:45:07]

And some of these senators -- Hugo Black, collective bargaining, 40- hour workweek, and Medicare and Social Security, and all that a number of these eight senators did for our country with these kinds of progressive victories.

BERMAN: That was so cool about reading it. I learned stuff about Proxmire. Glen Taylor, I knew nothing about. You know about Robert Kennedy --

BROWN: Yes, Glen Taylor -- nobody's known.

BERMAN: But it -- but it's --

BROWN: Nobody's heard of Glen Taylor.

BERMAN: It was really cool.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

BROWN: Thanks, I appreciate it. Good interview.

BERMAN: Congratulations on the new book.

BROWN: Thanks.

BERMAN: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting, John. Thanks so much for that.

Two former Twitter employees are accused of spying for Saudi Arabia. Details on what they were allegedly doing, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:50:17]

BERMAN: New questions this morning about President Trump's involvement in the effort to obtain the e-mails that were stolen by the Russians from the Democratic National Committee in 2016.

Telephone records released at the trial of the president's longtime friend and political adviser Roger Stone show that he spoke with Donald Trump three times the same day that the news of the hack of the DNC broke. This comes as we learn that two of the president's former associates will testify against Roger Stone. CNN crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz is live outside the federal courthouse in Washington. And, Shimon, I have to say I was surprised by how much the prosecutors brought up about Donald Trump.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, it was very dominant. His name all over this trial very early on -- in the opening statements even, John, when the prosecutor was describing what Roger Stone was doing.

And then, he came out and talked about the motive. Why Roger Stone, prosecutors believe, were lying -- why he was lying to members of Congress. And they said it was all to protect the Trump campaign. But then they also said it was to protect Donald Trump.

So, certainly, Donald Trump playing big at this trial and this is really what this is becoming about.

And then, prosecutors put on their first witness. And then we heard more about Donald Trump when prosecutors had the FBI agent describe how while Roger Stone is working with an intermediary, while Roger Stone is trying to find out what WikiLeaks has -- what information they've obtained -- it would appear, according to prosecutors, that he was in constant contact with then-candidate Donald Trump, calling him on several occasions over several minutes, as you said, on the day it was reported that the DNC had been hacked.

But there are even more phone calls where Roger Stone is trying to get to an intermediary to get to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. There are phone calls between Roger Stone and Donald Trump during that moment as well, as well as other people inside the campaign.

Of course, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, who is cooperating. He was the deputy campaign chairman. He is going to be testifying here as well as another big witness, Steve Bannon.

He is going to take the stand here and he is going to talk about how Roger Stone was reaching out to him, telling him how they could win the campaign, but it isn't going to be pretty. And then, of course, Steve Bannon said let's talk.

So all that in the first day. A lot more to happen here this morning and later today -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Shimon, this promises to be a fascinating day. Please keep us posted on all of the developments there.

PROKUPECZ: Sure.

CAMEROTA: Now to this. Two former Twitter employees accused of being spies for Saudi Arabia. Prosecutors say they used their access at the social media giant to collect sensitive and private information on Saudi dissidents.

CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez is live in Washington with details. Tell us more, Evan. EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, there's been a concern, certainly by the FBI and the Justice Department, that the Saudi government was using people here inside this country to try to spy on Saudi dissidents. And, of course, we saw that concern increase after the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

We did know, according to this -- according to this complaint that was filed in -- by the Justice Department that these two former Twitter employees are accused of essentially using their access to sensitive data inside the Twitter system to be able to pass on this information so that these Saudi dissidents could be targeted by the government.

These two are both accused of being agents of the -- of a foreign power, along with a third man who is -- who allegedly was acting as a go-between for the Saudi government, passing along payments -- including luxury watches -- in order to pay for what this -- what these men were doing.

Now, one of these men is still in this country. He's already appeared in court in Seattle. The other two are back in Saudi -- or are believed to be back in Saudi Arabia. And so that's the reason why they're not yet in the hands of U.S. authorities.

But again, this goes to show what the federal government here says is a wider campaign by the Saudis to try to use Twitter to not only mount a disinformation campaign with fake accounts but also to essentially use access inside the company to access the information of dissidents -- John, Alisyn.

BERMAN: Yes, it's always interesting that foreign actors know the intelligence value of social media here.

[07:55:03]

PEREZ: Yes.

BERMAN: All right, Evan, thank you very much. And then try to exploit it as well.

So if you want to know what your candidate thinks, start with their ads, which are already numerous, expensive, and above all else, telling.

John Avlon here with our reality check -- John.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right, guys, follow the money.

America is headed for the biggest, ugliest, and most expensive election ever. Less than 90 days out from the Iowa caucuses we've already seen more than $100 million spent on political ads, on the way to an estimated $6 billion by the end of the political cycle.

And with 2019 state elections just 48 hours in the rearview mirror, let's take a look at what works, what doesn't, and what's got folks talking.

So, Kentucky's governor's race can sometimes be seen as a national bellwether with the last four predicting which party would go on to win the presidency. And this year, the Democrat narrowly came out ahead despite Republican Gov. Matt Bevin tying himself to Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MATT BEVIN (R-KY), POLITICAL AD: President Trump is taking America to new heights but it hasn't been easy. People are afraid of change, but I'm not and neither is the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Now, ugly outside ads, they're a feature of U.S politics too, unfortunately. And this one may be a sign of coming attractions. It falsely claimed Bevin's opponent wanted transgender girls to compete against girls in school sports. A blatant scare tactic along culture war lines, but expect more of that.

Now, Democrat Andy Beshear didn't shy away from Trump either. He actually ran this ad featuring a couple of, quote, "Trump guys from Kentucky" who were going to vote Democrat this time around.

For his part, Donald Trump has been dominating the political ad space with big-dollar buys like this T.V. pitch during game seven of the World Series aimed at swing voters. But at least one claim didn't even make it across the plate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POLITICAL AD: Cutting illegal immigration in half.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AVLON: Not even close. As our Daniel Dale pointed out, this is misleading math at best.

Trump can't say he cut illegal immigration in half compared to Obama because it's not true, but he did cut it after a spike on his watch.

If you're wondering whether ads can have a real-world impact anymore look no further than billionaire Tom Steyer. He's been running ads calling for Trump's impeachment for two years and in the process he bought his way onto the presidential debate stage with an ad-buy tens of millions of dollars strong. At one point, he even outspent Donald Trump.

But, Trump's focus has really been on online ads like this official- looking poll asking his supporters hard-hitting questions like do you agree that President Trump has done nothing wrong?

Of course, the Internet is loaded with shady practices and Twitter and Facebook have been catching flack for their opposite approaches to political ads this cycle. Twitter banning them whether they're misleading or not, while Facebook is allowing all political ads whether they're fact or partisan fiction.

Both approaches equally dissed by Elizabeth Warren. She blasted Twitter for censuring climate crisis content and then posted an intentionally false ad on Facebook just to see if it would go through. It did.

But let's get down to brass tacks. You want to find the truth in politics, follow the money.

And, Donald Trump has spent more than $26 million on Facebook and Google ads so far. That's more than the top four Dems combined. He's also got $83 million of cash on hand; more than the top three earning Democrats combined.

Trump not only has more ads but more micro-targeted variations on those ads, with Democrats deciding to stick to more traditional kitchen table pocketbook issues.

Look, opposition to Trump may boost turnout this time around but Democrats are going to need to propose and not just oppose to win over swing voters in swing states to win back the White House.

And that's your reality check.

CAMEROTA: It's so good, John, to shine a light on these ads because as we've discussed, so many people don't know exactly what information they're getting, if it's factual, if it's not, and they're very persuasive -- or they can be.

BERMAN: And so many times candidates will say things and do things in ads that they won't say and do in public, so you've got to pay attention to both.

AVLON: Then there are the outside groups. This is the wild west, folks, and it's just beginning. The ad wars have just begun.

BERMAN: All right, John. Thank you very much.

And thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Max Foster is next.

For our U.S. viewers, this new report on President Trump asking the attorney general to help change the public perception of the whole Ukraine scandal. NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We will begin our open hearings in the impeachment inquiry next week.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: White House officials appear the most concerned about Bill Taylor, who told lawmakers there was an explicit quid pro quo.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I'm not going to read these transcripts. The whole process is a joke. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His testimony will confirm the underlying narrative, which is that the president betrayed his oath of office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the immediate aftermath of the transcripts being released he wanted the attorney general to have a public appearance. Bill Barr declined.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a measure that he sees of the gathering storm clouds on the horizon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

CAMEROTA: And good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, November seventh, 8:00 in the East.

And for the first time in the impeachment inquiry, a member of the vice president's inner circle will reportedly answer questions. A source tells CNN that Jennifer Williams, who is Mike Pence's senior adviser, will testify this morning if she's subpoenaed.

END