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Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Discusses House Investigating If Trump Lied to Mueller, Impeachment, GOP's Multiple Strategies to Defend Trump; Buttigieg Surges to First in CNN Iowa Poll; Bloomberg's About- Face on Stop & Frisk Policy; Trump Reverses Course on Flavored E- cigarettes Ban. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 18, 2019 - 11:30   ET



REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, Kate, of course, it's a crime to lie to federal prosecutors in the course of a federal proceeding. That's perjury.

It was also the basis for the GOP-controlled House's impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying under oath, for committing perjury. So it's a very serious offense. And it's obviously something that we take seriously.

We take seriously the integrity of this entire process, which is why we've been frustrated by the White House's continuing attempts to blockade witnesses and to intimidate witnesses and to prevent us from getting all of the evidence to which the Constitution entitles us.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: But, Congressman, how does this -- could this fit into the question of impeachment that we're looking at right now?

RASKIN: Well, obstruction of justice has been an independent article of impeachment in every modern impeachment case. So, essentially, there are underlying offenses. And then there's the obstruction of the process itself, which becomes an independent offense.

In other words, say the president is found guilty or is found likely to have conducted this Ukraine shakedown, trying to extract political dirt from a foreign government or trying to get the president of Ukraine to make his statement about the Bidens and so on.

But then, if the president goes on to try to blockade witnesses in the process or intimidate witnesses, that becomes a separate count in the articles of impeachment. Now --


BOLDUAN: And that's your -- and that is your committee, who eventually will be writing up the -- if there are, the articles of the charges, the articles of impeachment.

Would -- is your -- what I'm not clear on the reporting so far, and this is obviously coming in, is -- this is coming from the House's general counsel, saying that the House is investigating. Is it one of the committees that you're on that's investigating this, Judiciary or Oversight?

RASKIN: Well, yes. The special counsel, Mueller, in his report to Congress, which the Judiciary Committee received --


RASKIN: -- and investigated, has 10 different episodes precisely of obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and so on.

And the president committing perjury in the process of the investigation would be another article under the obstruction of justice, or it could be -- I mean, it could be another point under that, or it could be a separate article. None of that has been decided yet.

And again, we're still -- the Judiciary Committee is still waiting to receive all of the factual evidence.


RASKIN: The factual evidence is still ongoing with the Ukraine episode.

BOLDUAN: Yes, a lot of the past coming back to the present in very real time.

Let me ask you about the present, which is a very big week that will be coming, of eight witnesses that are scheduled to testify in the public impeachment hearings.

One thing that we have seen over time is the evolving strategy that I've seen from some -- we've all seen from some Republicans and how they are defending the president against impeachment.

And I wanted to get your take on what you say to what we've heard from top House Republicans, just over the weekend. Either, it ranged from Congressman Turner saying, the call was bad, but not impeachable. And other members of other Republican members saying, well, Ukraine eventually got the money and Ukraine never launched the investigation, so essentially, no harm, no foul.

RASKIN: Yes. Well, they're throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. So far, nothing's sticking.

The latter argument is absurd on its face. Essentially they're saying, because the president got caught, because the whistleblower came forward and Congress launched an investigation, and therefore they let the money go, there was no crime.

But that's like a bank robber saying, you know, on the threshold of leaving the bank with a bag of money, who gets caught by the security guards, oh, well, you know, no harm, no foul. All's well that ends well. You guys stopped me, there was no crime. So essentially what they're doing is they're admitting to attempted

extortion, attempted bribery. That doesn't improve the proposition, especially with the perpetrator who seems overwhelmingly likely to try it again.

After all, Donald Trump, right after Special Counsel Mueller testified, felt somehow that he was operating with impunity and went right forward to create the whole Ukrainian's caper.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thanks for coming in. A lot of moving parts today already, and it's not even begun. I really appreciate it.

RASKIN: My pleasure.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us -- thank you. Coming up for us, a new CNN poll showing South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg, is the new frontrunner in Iowa. What this means for his campaign and the rest of the 2020 field now that he's less than three months out from Iowa.



MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D- SOUTH BEND, IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: On the ground for weeks, I've been feeling that there's more and more support. I've been feeling momentum.


BOLDUAN: That was what Pete Buttigieg had to say following big news out of Iowa.

A new CNN/"Des Moines Register" poll showing the South Bend, Indiana, mayor now has a commanding lead in the state among Democratic presidential candidates with 25 percent support among likely Democratic caucus-goers. A 16 percent jump from September, which means, as you see there, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden are now fighting it out for second place.

What does this mean with the caucuses less than three months away?

Joining me right now, former campaign manager for President Obama, Jim Messina.

It's good to see you, Jim.



BOLDUAN: So, Iowa was the launching pad for Obama in 2008. Leaning on all of that past experience, what do you think when you see these numbers that came out? For Buttigieg, less than three months to Iowa. MESSINA: Yes, we're 77 shopping days left before the Iowa caucuses.

And if you're going to peak, you want to start peaking now.

And it's clearly a very good moment for the mayor. And, you know, he hit -- regardless of what happens in the polls, Kate, he's the breakout star of this primary process.

If you would have told me a guy, who's only other national experience is losing a race for DNC chairman would be leading in Iowa, I would be really surprised, but he is.

That said, let's slow our roll here. He's the fifth candidate to lead at least one poll in Iowa. In the early state polls, which came out over the weekend, have him way down in the early states. He's in fourth or fifth total. And you have Biden and Warren kind of leading the pack.

So I think it's a very big moment for him. I think he's absolutely got to win Iowa to catch fire here. But I also think we're still a long way away.

BOLDUAN: But, looking at the polls, you have a chance that Biden is still leading in national polling. And leading in Nevada and South Carolina and could lose the first two nominating states. If you're involved in Biden's campaign right now, how big of a problem is that?

MESSINA: I think it's a real concern. No one's ever lost the first two states and gone to become the Democratic nominee for president.

That said, the Democrats have changed their electoral calendar and we've moved a bunch of states up early. And Iowa is probably less important than it used to be. Because so many states are right after Iowa. Early voting in California and Texas starts right after the Iowa caucuses.

And so you really do want to be a more national candidate, which is a big advantage to candidates like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren.

BOLDUAN: Do you see -- I mean, less than three months after Iowa, do you see the -- do you see it changing dramatically? I was looking back at Obama -- we were looking back at Obama in '08, and it was a steady trend up, right? It was a steady rise and, in that last poll, he was up in Iowa. And that's the trend that you're seeing with Pete Buttigieg.

I mean, do you see smart money that this is going to wildly change in terms of who's on top before Iowa?

MESSINA: Yes, I think smart money is on it kind of jumping all around, Kate.

First of all, sadly for the Democrats, we don't have another Barack Obama in this field.

And I think the better analogy is 2004, when at this moment, like 70 days before the Iowa caucus, John Kerry was in sixth place in the polls and ended up winning the Iowa caucus.

I think you'll see this race bump all over the place, because the single most important factor to Democrats is who can beat Donald Trump.

And in that polling, you know, Mayor Pete isn't in the top three or four. People do have concerns about whether or not he can win a general election.

So I think Democrats are going to hold their fire here, especially in Iowa and New Hampshire, and really look at this thing. And I think you'll continue to see the race jump around a little bit.

And as you know, we've got one or two new candidates in the field in the past 10 days.


MESSINA: This thing still feels to me to be very up in the air.

BOLDUAN: And there's a long way to go.

Jim, it's good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

MESSINA: My pleasure. Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Talk to you soon.

Coming up for us, one of those people that Jim's talking about right there, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, he hasn't yet officially jumped into the 2020 race, but he is jumping into a controversial issue from his past. That is next.


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BOLDUAN: Go to to vote for Zach Wigal for "CNN Hero" of the year or any of your favorite top-10 heroes.

We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hasn't officially jumped into the 2020 presidential race, but he sure sounds like he's getting ready to do so.

Not only getting his name on the ballot in some primary states, but now he's also making a reversal in one of the most controversial positions as mayor of New York, bluntly apologizing for this Stop and Frisk policy that he endorsed during his time in office. The police federal judge ruled in 2013 violated the constitutional rights of racial minorities.

Listen to this.



MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, (D), FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I got something important really wrong. I didn't understand that back then, the full impact that stops were having the black and Latino communities. I was totally focused on saving lives. But as we know, good intentions aren't good enough.


BOLDUAN: Will that be enough for Democratic voters if Bloomberg gets in the race? We may soon find out.

Joining me right now is former mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter. He is now a senior adviser to What Works in Cities, an organization funded by Bloomberg's philanthropies.

It's good to see you, Mayor.


BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming in.

What did you think about what Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday?

NUTTER: I thought it was bold. It was certainly heartfelt.

It takes a lot for a public official or former public official of high visibility to admit that something you did or an action that you took was wrong and to admit it in public and to say that you're sorry. That's a sign of great leadership and a person who has obviously been

reflecting on his time in office and the impact that some of his policies or anybody's policies might have on other people.

I thought it was quite admirable and certainly appreciated.

BOLDUAN: I know you've seen this since. He's faced a lot of pushback since his remarks yesterday. Mayor de Blasio calling it a death-bed conversion, that the mayor would never have done this if it weren't for him preparing to run. What they're getting at is the criticism is not sincere. Do you see that?

NUTTER: One thing I know about Mike Bloomberg is he is actually a very sincere and thoughtful person. He did not, I don't think -- I haven't talked to him -- but he's not the kind of guy that I think woke up on Saturday and said, hey, I suddenly realize I was wrong about this particular policy.

He is a thoughtful, reflective person. It's to be expected that people would criticize --


BOLDUAN: But recently, he was still defending his position on that policy recently, and that's why folks are pointing to that, politically speaking, it looked like he turned on a dime.

NUTTER: Well, I think the most important thing here is that he did say it. It doesn't often happen.

Some people actually double or triple down on whatever their position had been in the past because they're unable to actually say that they made a mistake and that they're sorry.

So, you know, we'll see where things go from here. I don't think this is a one and done.

But all of us, I think, you know, have made whatever mistakes we've made and many people do believe in redemption and a second chance. And so I think, you know, the same courtesy, if you will, should be or will be extended to Mike Bloomberg.

It's the first step in, you know, what could be a thousand steps leading to, you know, whatever he might decide to do next. But I still think it is important.

The statement was made. It was made in public. I believe it was, it is, sincere. And, you know, I don't know what goes on in the mind of another person, but I think we generally should take people at their word.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, I find it fascinating, and it's worth noting that you have been supportive, in terms of looking at the presidential field, supportive of Joe Biden. You fundraised for him in your home state.


BOLDUAN: And you're complimenting the leadership qualities of Michael Bloomberg as he considers his presidential run.

If he gets in, obviously, he's running against Joe Biden. If Michael Bloomberg gets in the race, should we anticipate Mayor Nutter changing who he is supporting?

NUTTER: I think that's much further down the road. You know, my comments today are about a speech made by former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is a friend, and, you know, that's where things are today. The speech was a speech. I think it's an important issue.

And the presidential race ultimately will take care of itself.

BOLDUAN: Not a no, though, Mayor. Not a no.

Good to see you. Thank you for coming in.

NUTTER: Always good, Kate. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much.


We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: President Trump had promised a ban on flavored E-cigarettes, but a new report says he's essentially completely reversed course. This was the president back in September. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can't allow people to get sick and we can't have our youth be so affected.


BOLDUAN: Now the "New York Times" is reporting the president shelved a ban after hearing from his campaign and others that it could anger supporters.

The White House is pushing back on that report saying that the rule- making process is still going on and no final decision has been made.

Let's get the very latest. Joining me from Washington, CNN White House reporter, Kate Bennett.

Good to see you, Kate.

And important part about this, Kate, this is a big issue for the first lady. What now?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right, Kate. And it remains a big issue for the first lady. That September meeting in the Oval Office actually included Melania Trump, who never really steps in on policy issues. Remember the president said, she's got a son, we've got a son, talking about their teenage son.

I just heard from Stephanie Grisham, while the White House press secretary, still the spokeswoman for the first lady, and she said the first lady does not believe cigarettes or any nicotine products should be marketed or made available for children.

So, again, this is the first lady staying committed on this topic. What's going to happen moving forward is the question.

Our own Jim Acosta reported that Trump is feeling the pressure from his political allies, even his campaign manager, saying a ban on E- cigarettes, even flavored ones, would affect his base.

This could come down to something between the first lady's initiative, something she really cares about, and how the husband feels politically moving forward.


BOLDUAN: Yes. Absolute. Fascinating.

Kate, thanks so much. It's great to see you. I really appreciate it.

BENNETT: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you all so much for joining me today.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.