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Buttigieg Tops New Iowa Poll; Columbia, SC City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine (D) Discusses Deval Patrick, Michael Bloomberg Possibly Entering Race; Five Key Moments From Public Hearings In Trump Presidency; Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) Discusses Supreme Court Hearing DACA Case, Strong Case Of Bribery Against Trump In Impeachment Probe; Violence Spirals After Killing Of Top Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leader. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 12, 2019 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: It looks like billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, is serious about running for president. The former New York mayor has filed in Arkansas to appear on the ballot for the state's Democratic primary.

Just moments ago, Bloomberg tweeted out this photo with the caption, "We must defeat Trump."

In the meantime, a new Monmouth University poll is out and it's showing a new emerging frontrunner in a very close race. Mayor Pete Buttigieg now holding a narrow lead in the Hawkeye State among Democrat voters. He is at 22 percent, Joe Biden at 19, Elizabeth Warren at 18, Bernie Sanders at 18.

Vanessa Yurkevich is joining me now.

Vanessa, this is a big lead for Buttigieg in Iowa. What is behind this sudden surge?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS & POLITICS REPORTER: Definitely, Brianna. Buttigieg has been polling among the top-tier candidates in Iowa, but this is the first time we've really seen him lead the pack. He's up 14 points since the last Monmouth poll in August, so that's a really big jump.

What we can sort of attribute that to is his on-the-ground organizing in the state. He has one of the campaigns with the most amount of staffers in the state. And we know that Buttigieg spends the most time in Iowa of any other state. He just came off a huge bus tour there where he makes himself readily available to the media.

He also has a ton of money. He can pay for those radio and TV ads that people see all across the state in Iowa.

He's also doing really well in New Hampshire. But the two places that he is sort of faltering, Brianna, when you look at Nevada and South Carolina, that's further down the line in these early voting states, he's simply not polling as well.

But what the campaign is hoping for, Brianna, is that he can do well in these Iowa caucuses that will then help set the tone for some of these other states where voters will say, hey, I kind of want to get behind the person who is leading in these early states so then the campaign hopes that maybe Nevada and South Carolina will pick up a little bit more as we head down the line -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much.

Just days after learning billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, is considering jumping in the race, we're now hearing former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick may launch a run.

A source telling CNN that Patrick is seriously weighing whether he can make a credible last-minute entry into the Democratic primary contest.

The odds, though, are stacked against him. Patrick already missed the Alabama filing deadline. The deadline for Arkansas is today. New Hampshire is on Friday.


Joining me now to discuss this is Tameika Isaac Devine. She is the major pro tem of Columbia, South Carolina, and sits on the city council there.

Councilwoman, thank you for joining us.


KEILAR: Do you think Deval Patrick would be able to find a toe hold in South Carolina? What would a run by him look like there?

DEVINE: I think it's very interesting. Governor Devall Patrick, years ago, would come to the state. He was actually a speaker at our annual Democratic dinner. So I think he has a lot of folks that would be intrigued by his candidacy.

But right now, time is really tight. Our primary is February 29th, and so to be able to get name recognition, I.D. and be able to get people to really understand why he would be the best choice outside of Vice President Biden or others, I think time is really, really short.

So if he comes, he'll have to be here often because folks here in South Carolina like to be able to say they've seen you personally, not just on TV.

KEILAR: Do you think it's possible that he would take some support from Joe Biden of South Carolina voters?


DEVINE: I think that's really interesting. I'm not sure he would really be able to garner the support away from Vice President Biden. The thing about vice president Biden and the reason South Carolina has

been named as a strong D stronghold for him is because we have a history with him. He has been here long before his days as vice president.

He has great relationships with Congressman Clyburn and former Senator Hollings. So he's been here a long time. People in South Carolina tend to gravitate to what they know, and they know Vice President Biden.

So Governor Patrick, if he were to get in, what would be interesting is to see whether or not he would get any supporters from some of the other candidates, from Senator Warren or Senator Sanders or even Cory Booker or Kamala Harris.

Because with such a large demographic of African-American voters, I think someone would be looking at an African-American that inspired them like President Obama did.

KEILAR: It's so interesting to talk to you because you've been hosting events at your house for a number of candidates. You and your husband have done that. He' an election official on the school board there. You've been talking to people and, in those venues, you talked to constituents.

I wonder what you think about billionaire, Michael Bloomberg. He's in Arkansas today. He's expected file for the Democratic primary there. How do you think he might fare in a state like South Carolina if he decides to get in?

DEVINE: The thing about Mayor Bloomberg, he actually has been here as well before -- with the foundation. He hosted an event at Bennett College just last year. So I think even when he came at that time, people were wondering whether or not he would get in. And then he came in and said he wasn't going to run.

With Mayor Bloomberg, yes, he has the money, but I really think he would find it challenging to really be able to connect with African- American voters here, because, again, he hasn't been here as much.

So to be able to -- for people to identify with him, I think he would have to be here a little bit more and certainly have some African- American surrogates within the community that could speak to why he would be a good candidate outside of the ones who have already offered themselves.

KEILAR: You talk to so many people, as I mentioned. Do they say, hey, we want more candidates than are already in this crowded field?

DEVINE: You know, it's funny. I think -- there are two demographics I hear a whole lot. I hear some people say, wow, we have too many candidates, and honestly, until the field gets smaller, I'm not looking at anybody seriously, because I feel if I get into it and I like somebody and they can't make it to February and they drop out, then I have to do my homework and due diligence on another candidate.

I know some folks aren't committing to anybody right now because they feel like there are so many candidates.

Then I talk to a group of people who feel like although we have a lot of great candidates with a lot of great characteristics, they don't feel like any of the current candidates speak to them.

So I do think that someone like Governor Patrick, who is a little bit more moderate, who has a great track record in Massachusetts, might appeal to some of those people as well.

But it remains to be seen if there are enough of those people to actually give him a viable run.

KEILAR: Very interesting.

Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine, thanks for joining us.

DEVINE: Thank you.

KEILAR: Coming up, what will happen to the DREAMers? Right now, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments over whether President Trump can end the DACA program. The decision could come down to two of the court's conservative justices.


And from the James Comey testimony to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, this week's impeachment hearings will be just the latest in a string of blockbuster events.



KEILAR: In less than 24 hours, the first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump will be underway. And if history is any indication, this will be another blockbuster event in the Trump presidency.

Former FBI Director James Comey was one of the first star witnesses to testify against President Trump. He appeared before Congress twice and both times he sounded the alarm on the Trump campaign's dealings with Russia.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

I was fired in some way to change -- or the endeavor was to change the way the Russian investigation was being conduct.


KEILAR: And who could forget Michael Cohen, Trump's so-called fixer and private attorney? While under oath, Cohen accused the president of paying off alleged mistresses with hush money before offering an ominous warning to the country.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.


KEILAR: So next were the Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford hearings, one of the most intense and polarizing moments of public testimony in recent American history.

Dr. Ford accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her when the two were in high school.


CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, ACCUSED BRETT KAVANAUGH OF SEXUAL ASSAULT: I'm here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I'm here because I believe it was my civic duty.

I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: This confirmation process has become a national disgrace! My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed!


KEILAR: Most recently, Congress heard from former special counsel, Robert Mueller, who maintained his report did not exonerate the president.


ROBERT MUELLER, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL: The finding indicates that the president was not -- that the president was not exculpated for the acts he allegedly committed.


KEILAR: So again, tomorrow, the first public impeachment hearings will begin. They will be live here on CNN's special coverage starting at 8:00 a.m.

After Nikki Haley reveals that Trump officials felt the need to undermine the president, she's now tripling down on her defense of the president saying that he is truthful.

Plus, the gun industry suffers a big blow as the Supreme Court allows a lawsuit by Sandy Hook families against a gunmaker to move forward.



KEILAR: Just moments ago, an emotional scene outside of the Supreme Court.



KEILAR: The crowd chanting, "Home is here," as DACA defenders emerged from the highly charged hearing on the Obama-era program protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

This hearing is the culmination of more than two years of legal battles and protests. At issue, the Trump administration's decision to end protections for more than 700,000 of these DREAMers as they're known.

We have Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat from Texas, and a supporter of DACA, joining us now. She's also on the House Judiciary Committee.

Thank you for joining us.

REP. SYLVIA GARCIA (D-TX): Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: These lower courts have allowed DACA renewals to continue while this legal process plays out. What's at stake here?

GARCIA: There's a lot at stake. Primarily, the lives of the 800,000- plus DREAMers, and then many more that are DACA eligible but not applied. It's their lives, their families.

And the question whether or not they get to stay here, which is a place they consider home. The only place that many of them have ever known is the United States of America. In their heart in their mind, in their soul, they are Americans.

KEILAR: You must have considered the possibility of, if you're not successful here. If supporters of DACA lose this decision, what then?

GARCIA: Well, we'll continue the fight. You know, we've already passed a DREAMer Promise Act in the Congress. We did that in the House about six months ago. We'll continue to try to push the Senate to also pass it. And then go from there.

If that fails, we'll also continue to negotiate, we'll continue to march, we'll continue to put the pressure on. Because, again, this is home to this 800,000-plus DREAMers. They're Americans. They're here to stay and we will help them to be able to stay.

KEILAR: The president tweeted out this morning, it was an insult about DACA recipients. He said that, "Many are far from angels." He said some are "tough, hardened criminals."

It's important to fact-check that because DACA recipients go through background checks. Felons and folks who commit significant misdemeanors, those kinds of offenders are prohibited form the program.


But earlier on in this administration, President Trump said the DACA recipients would be treated with heart. What do you make of that tweet today?

GARCIA: It's not surprising. The president will say one thing -- and he did promise he would look at DACA and keep it. Because, of course, millions of Americans agreed with that. I mean, poll after poll, over 80 percent of Americans want protections for these DREAMers.

So the president doesn't surprise me anymore. It's always misinformation. It's lies. It's always something to try to defend his position.

But in this case, he's just dead wrong. DREAMers are workers. They're teachers. They're veterans. They're your neighbor. They're the person who sits next to you at church. They're contributing to society.

I don't know what number he's looking at, but it is the wrong number.

KEILAR: I want to ask you, while I have you here, about something else. That your fellow congresswoman, Jackie Speier, among others, says there's a strong case of bribery against the president in this impeachment investigation.

Do you think Democrats should use that kind of language, bribery and extortion, in impeachment hearings instead of quid pro quo? And should they have used that sooner? One legal expert was on that said it's more effective but doesn't know why Democrats waited this long to use it.

GARCIA: For us in Judiciary, we're waiting to get the report and any recommendation that that committee or any of the other five committees and jurisdictions would send to us. I'm going to wait and pass judgment once I see it. I do expect a referral.

Be let's be clear. What the president did is not following the rule of law. It goes against our Democratic rule of law. It is an abuse of power. And it really puts our national security at risk.

So I think all that, if it adds up to be an extortion we'll find, that's what we'll pursue. If it ends up being just an abuse of power and just not following the rule of law, well, we'll take that road.

So I think we need to wait before we make any final judgment.

KEILAR: And just quickly before you go, what's the goal here? What should the goal be for Democrats as these hearings begin?

GARCIA: Well, I think the goal will be, number one, to make sure that they're open and that the public can hear and see for themselves just exactly what transpired, to see that there are facts that can be established, that the affidavit is being cooperated , and we can reach some conclusion.

Because right now, I think there's still some concern from some Americans about where this is going. Now they'll be able to see for themselves.

So, again, it's about making sure we protect our democracy, that we stop this abuse of power, and we protect our national security.

KEILAR: Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, thank you so much.

GARCIA: Thank you.

KEILAR: Tensions erupting today along Israel's border with Gaza. Violence starting after a senior Islamic jihad leader was killed in an airstrike this morning. Palestinian officials say seven people were killed in the attack. Gaza militants responded by firing almost 200 rockets towards Israel. As you can see in these pictures.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live in Israel.

And, Oren, Israelis have said -- have they said what prompted the airstrike in the first place?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This all begins about 4:00 this morning, Brooke (sic), when Israelis carried out a targeted killing, an assassination of senior Islamic jihad leader, Baha Abu al Ata.

Israel considered him a ticking time bomb, someone who was planning and carrying out attacks against Israel in the coming days.

They also say he was responsible for a number of rockets fired into Israel over the course of the past few months. That's why they say they decided to act in this case.

Following that, Islamic Jihadists fired off some 200 rockets during the course of the day and now into the evening, prompting an Israeli response.

What's interesting is Israel has gone out of its way to point its finger at Islamic jihad, saying it's Islamic jihad that's fired the rockets. And Israel strikes in Gaza seen throughout the day target specifically Islamic jihad positions.

You pointed out, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, there have been seven killed in Gaza as well as a number of injuries on both sides of the border as well as the damage that comes from the airstrikes and rockets.

Where does it go from here? This is a crucial question in determining what happens over the next few hours and days. A lot depends on Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza. That's what Israel and the region are waiting to see.

If Hamas decides not to fire rockets and decides not to get involved in the fighting, there's a chance it de-escalates. Brianna, if they get involved, it could escalate and, at that point, who knows where this goes.


KEILAR: Oren, thank you very much for following this story.

That's it for me.

"NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.