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Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) Weighs In On This Week's Impeachment Hearings; President Trump's Hospital Visit Raises Questions About His Health; Nancy Pelosi's Daughter Profiles House Speaker In New Book. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 18, 2019 - 07:30   ET




ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: -- need to be at a place of either there's doubt about this case -- there's doubt about whether it's true or maybe it happened but it's not serious enough to merit impeachment.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): High stakes heading into a potentially explosive week of testimony.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We are adjourned.


HILL: And the president using a well-worn attack on one of tomorrow's witnesses, Jennifer Williams, calling her a never-Trumper this weekend. In response, the vice president office's saying simply, Alisyn, she is a State Department employee.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Erica, thank you very much for all of that.

Joining us now, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons. He serves on the Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees. Senator, great to have you here in-studio.

As Erica just laid out for us, Gordon Sondland -- all eyes on Gordon Sondland. I mean, it's going to be a fascinating week above and beyond Gordon Sondland.

But, Gordon Sondland is interesting because he had first said that he didn't know what any of this quid pro quo talk was about, and in the past weeks we've learned not only did he know, he was pivotal. He was the person who was in the middle of it. He was talking to Zelensky's people, he was talking to President Trump, he was updating Mick Mulvaney and Rick Perry.

But, since in his first testimony on October 17th, he gave a misleading testimony where he said he didn't know, how do you trust him this Wednesday? SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, I think the development last week of Roger Stone being sentenced for lying to the FBI and to Congress will put even more pressure on Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

I'll remind you this isn't a never-Trumper. This isn't a part of the alleged deep state. This is someone who was a big Trump supporter -- a major donor with a direct line to the White House.

And what I think is important for folks to keep in mind is that this isn't one phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky. What we've heard in public testimony last week is this was clearly an orchestrated campaign largely led by Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's private attorney, and by Gordon Sondland, a political appointee as ambassador to the E.U. who, frankly, had no business running a parallel private foreign policy that was designed to benefit President Trump politically.

CAMEROTA: Is there any way Gordon Sondland doesn't show up or Gordon Sondland pleads the fifth when he shows up and doesn't offer much?

COONS: That's entirely possible. I'm sure that his attorneys are advising him on exactly what he might say or not say given the increasing clarity of the legal risk he might be putting himself in --

CAMEROTA: And then what --

COONS: -- depending on how he testifies.

CAMEROTA: And then what do you all do in response to that?

COONS: Well, by you all, I think you mean the House --


COONS: -- Democratic impeachment inquiry leaders.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean Democrats. Yes, what would Democrats do if that happens?

COONS: That's a great question. I don't know exactly how Chairman Schiff would respond.

I think this past week they laid out a great deal of evidence about this organized campaign -- having Ambassador Yovanovitch testify helped put the whole thing in context.

But I'll remind you there are eight witnesses this week, including Lt. Col. Vindman, who will give testimony about how unusual that call was between President Trump and President Zelensky. And there are several others who are former NSC staffers, who were staffers to the vice president or the administration at senior levels who will also testify about how unusual this whole campaign is.

CAMEROTA: In terms of the Senate and, specifically, your committee of Foreign Relations, you all sent a letter, as I understand it, to the State Department asking them to what -- publicly support Jennifer Williams, one of the witnesses who the president has now gone after in a tweet, saying --

"Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read both transcripts of the presidential calls and see the just-released statement from Ukraine. Then she should meet with the other never-Trumpers who I don't know and mostly never even heard of and work out a better presidential attack."

What do you want the State Department to do on her behalf?

COONS: To defend the Foreign Service officers, many of whom have testified in the last week and we'll testify this week. There's a whole series of senior advisers to the administration who are simply doing their jobs. I think last week we saw a number of folks who spent literally decades serving the United States.

What was particularly striking to me was to see former Ambassador Yovanovitch literally attacked and intimidated by the president, by tweet, while she was testifying to the House impeachment inquiry about how she was harassed and intimidated by the president and his team and driven from her post in Ukraine.

CAMEROTA: Have you heard back from your letter from --

COONS: No, I haven't.

CAMEROTA: And are you surprised that Vice President Pence hasn't come out and publicly supported Jennifer Williams? She's a top NSC aide to Vice President Pence.

COONS: Yes, I am. I'm disappointed.

And we will have a chance soon when there's a confirmation hearing for the new nominee to be Deputy Secretary of State to press him on whether or not the administration -- in particular, the senior leadership of the State Department -- stands behind those who are career advisers at senior levels in the Foreign Service and on the NSC.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about 2020. As you have said so many times on this program, you are --

COONS: It seems to be a theme.

CAMEROTA: -- an ardent supporter of Vice President Biden.

Here's the latest poll from the "Des Moines Register" and CNN, and it shows Pete Buttigieg really out front in Iowa. He's at 25 percent versus the next three candidates. Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders all 16 or 15 percent.


So, does this worry you?

COONS: It really doesn't. Last week, Vice President Biden had a terrific town hall hosted here on CNN at Grinnell College in Iowa. If you look at poll after poll, nationally, Joe Biden is in a very

solid position as the leader in the field. More importantly, in the critical swing states -- states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, all the recent polls show him not just beating Donald Trump, but beating President Trump by a bigger margin than any other Democrat.

CAMEROTA: But what if he doesn't?

COONS: He's clearly the leader in this field.

CAMEROTA: OK, but what if he doesn't? I mean, he's not the leader in Iowa based on this, and what if he doesn't win Iowa and New Hampshire?

COONS: That hasn't been the outcome determinative in past elections. I don't think it will be in this one. I think he we will --

CAMEROTA: You mean he could lose. Just to be clear -- so he could lose Iowa and New Hampshire and you think that he would still win the -- win the key (ph) primary?

COONS: I think he is in an exceptionally strong position in Nevada and South Carolina. All of these elections -- these primaries and caucuses are within just a few weeks of each other. And I think there continues to be a steady, solid base of support for Joe Biden, which that town hall last week shows. He's earned it.

CAMEROTA: So what do you think is going on in this poll?

COONS: I think Mayor Pete, who I've known for a long time, is sort of the enticing, engaging, shiny new potential leader. And I think there's a lot of folks in Iowa who haven't made up their mind yet. And I think you'll see this field shift several times in the next couple of weeks as poll after poll shows really fairly slight differences between the top four.

CAMEROTA: Sen. Chris Coons, great to have you in-studio.

COONS: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for much for being here -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's sudden visit to a hospital over the weekend raising new questions about his health. It certainly wasn't routine -- not on its face.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next.



BERMAN: New questions this morning about President Trump's health after he made a sudden, unannounced, unscheduled visit to Walter Reed Medical Center over the weekend. Now, the White House says it was regular testing as part of his annual physical, but a source tells CNN the visit did not follow the usual protocol for a routine presidential exam.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is live with us. So, Sanjay, what do you see here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, the fact that it did not fit protocol -- follow protocol not only from previous administrations but from this administration.

In the past, the White House did alert people that the president was going to have a physical exam. It was planned. As you might imagine, it's a big deal for the president to show up at the hospital. It doesn't sound like everyone at the hospital knew about this.

So there were several protocols that were broken here.

Also, this idea that he went in for the first phase of a physical exam -- that's typically -- very typically not how it's done.

In fact, many of the things that he said he had done at Walter Reed -- a physical exam, basic lab work, I think was the quote -- that can be done at the White House as well. So it does sort of raise this question what was necessary at Walter Reed that couldn't be done at the White House? Why was it being done a few months early?

Stephanie Grisham, who is the president's spokesperson, has said very clearly -- look, this wasn't due to any new symptoms the president was having.

But I think any medical person -- that would be the first question they would ask. A patient shows up -- somewhat of an unannounced surprise visit to the hospital -- what's going on? What prompted this visit?

We don't know the answer to that. We may never know the answer to that. There's no requirement that the president -- the White House disclose that information, so we may never know. But it is really odd in terms of how this unfolded.

CAMEROTA: I mean, it's really odd. It's alarming not to have any transparency in terms of the president's health right now. We're -- this is a presidential campaign, may I remind everybody.

I mean -- and we all remember when Hillary Clinton -- I remember she, like, tripped on a stair or something and for the next months there were all sorts of people, certainly in right-wing media, that were saying that she had all sorts of ailments and maladies and why isn't she being more transparent.

This is the President of the United States.

GUPTA: Right.

CAMEROTA: I mean, Sanjay, you're saying there's no requirement for him to explain his health but there's certainly expectation that presidents tell voters. GUPTA: Yes, there's no question -- no question, and it's been -- that expectation has been around for some time, really since Paul Tsongas in the 90s, someone who was running for president and subsequently found to have a form of cancer that he would have -- could have been a problem for him had he been elected president. Really, since that time, there has been this habit of presidents being more forthright about their medical records.

Although I will say -- look, I don't think anyone's been perfect on this. Typically what you get is a one-pager -- something like that. It's sort of a summary as opposed to complete medical records.

The unusual part here is that there was just no advance notice. All of the sudden, on a Saturday, the president goes to Walter Reed.

Who knew at Walter Reed? What were the tests that were done there? Why did they need to be done there? That's a big question.

I mean, we know a little bit about this president's health history, right, from previous exams. We know his weight, we know his height. We know the things that are typically done.

But we also know that he has a -- he takes medication to lower his cholesterol. We know he has a form of heart disease based on previous scans.

Were that -- were those tests repeated? Was that because they needed to be repeated? Again, there's a lot of question marks here and not many answers.

BERMAN: We may never know, as you point out.


BERMAN: Another big story this morning, potentially, Sanjay -- "The Washington Post" broke it and then the "Times" and the "Journal" both matched it -- that the administration is reportedly delaying if not just stepping back completely from the proposed ban on flavored vaping products. What's going on here?

GUPTA: Well, I mean, it's interesting. This doesn't surprise people that much because a couple of months ago you may remember the president basically said he was planning this ban on flavorings of e- cigarettes. Then we really hadn't heard much since then at all.


Last week, you know, we reached out to many organizations that would be involved with discussions around this sort of ban -- the Vaping Association, medical professionals -- and all those folks had said look, we haven't heard anything. We haven't -- no one's contacted us and no one's called us, so there has been no movement here at all. So that doesn't surprise me that much that now we're hearing the president maybe is changing his mind.

We did reach out to the White House -- I want to point out, John -- on this and -- to get their sort of reflections on this. Here's what they said specifically.

They say, "President Trump and the administration are committed to responsibly protecting the health of children. At this time, we are in an ongoing rulemaking process and will not speculate on the final outcome."

You know -- look, the fact that there's a rulemaking process still going on, that suggests that maybe there is still going to be some activity. We don't know.

But, John, one thing I do want to point out, and you and I have talked about this at length. There are two separate issues that we're talking about with regard to vaping.

One is these illnesses and these deaths that we heard about -- have heard about, and that's almost certainly linked to these THC cartridges -- typically, these illicit THC cartridges. People are vaping in something that is obviously causing them illness and even death.

What the -- what the flavoring ban was about was really about are these -- are these flavors enticing young people to start vaping? And that's what this whole rulemaking process is about and obviously, we're going to have to see how that plays out.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sanjay. Thank you very much --

GUPTA: Yes, thank you.

CAMEROTA: -- for all of the information.

Now to this. Kanye West says his signature cockiness and arrogance are now being used, quote, "in service to God."

During an appearance at Pastor Joel Osteen's Houston megachurch on Sunday, the rapper also declared this.


KANYE WEST, RAPPER: Now, the greatest artist that God has ever exist -- created is now working for him.


CAMEROTA: I think he was referring to himself.

BERMAN: He was.

CAMEROTA: Later in the evening, West held his own Sunday service there. Organizers say tickets for the free event were gone in less than 15 minutes.

BERMAN: The greatest ever.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, he is a great artist. BERMAN: Well, there's Michelangelo, there's Leonardo, and then there's some others who did OK. I mean, they did -- they were OK. The Beatles, OK.

CAMEROTA: Look, I like his confidence. I think that that's a winning play.

BERMAN: I guess you have to like yourself.

So, the woman leading the impeachment charge against President Trump -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Now, a new book charts her course to becoming the most powerful woman in government. The author, who happens to be her daughter, joins us next.



CAMEROTA: All right, time for "CNN Business Now." Could it be another record day on Wall Street? U.S. stocks are set to open higher as investors watch for any news of the U.S-China trade talks.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us with more. What do we expect?


You know, there are signs of progress in the 17-month-old trade war with China. Chinese state media hailed constructive discussions about a phase one trade deal. Now, we know the two sides held a high-level phone call on Friday night, and upbeat signals from the U.S. side sent stocks to record highs Friday.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Washington and Beijing were close to a deal.

And over the weekend, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro also used the same word the Chinese did -- constructive -- of trade representative Robert Lighthizer's behind-closed-doors negotiating.


PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: These talks continue to be constructive, but my Lighthizer rule is all negotiation should be behind closed doors. So we're on a glide path to a deal.


ROMANS: Now, Navarro would not say if he thinks an agreement would happen this year. Until then, hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs remain on Chinese imports and on U.S. products like agriculture. U.S. farmers are the collateral damage in this trade war.

On Twitter, President Trump vowed another major round of cash for U.S. farmers before Thanksgiving. A second round of bailout checks for farmers expected to be cut next week -- compliments, Trump says, of China tariffs. Now, Trump has, of course, falsely said China and its tariffs fund the farmer bailout. In reality, American business and American consumers pay for those tariffs.

There's already been $12 billion bailout to compensate farmers, you guys, for the lower prices and lost sales because of this trade war. This round of checks will be $16 billion.

Also, this is not the grand course correction the president promised at the start of the trade war. This is -- they're looking to find a narrow agreement, leaving some thorny issues until later.

Even this phase one plan, John, has been very difficult. I wouldn't bet your bottom dollar on it because we have been, you know -- we have been fooled before about how close they were getting.

BERMAN: All right, watching it very closely. Christine Romans, thank you very much.


BERMAN: So, she has risen to become the highest-ranking woman in American history -- political history -- twice. Now, a new book takes a close look at how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's life and career brought her here and it's written by someone who knows her pretty well. The book is called "The Nancy Pelosi Way."

Joining me now is Christine Pelosi, the daughter of the House Speaker. Christine, thank you so much for being with us.


It's a terrific read about family, about political organizing, about female empowerment. And then you get to the end -- your afterword -- and you realize you wrote the whole book, you got it to the publisher, and there's an impeachment hearing underway, basically -- a full impeachment inquiry, so you write about that.

How is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi approaching this process? And given what you know about her, how will she approach it?

CHRISTINE PELOSI, DAUGHTER OF HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI, CHAIR, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY WOMEN'S CAUCUS, AUTHOR, "THE NANCY PELOSI WAY: ADVICE ON SUCCESS, LEADERSHIP, AND POLITICS FROM AMERICA'S MOST POWERFUL WOMAN": Well, John, it's great to be with you and appropriate that we're talking about this book on NEW DAY because one of the lessons of the Nancy Pelosi way is to treat every day as a new day when you have five kids in six years, as she and my father, Paul, did, and you're talking about diapers, and then carpools, and class activities, and all that.

There's so many group dynamics that come from raising a family of five that you have to understand coalition and politics. You have to understand how to read people, how to educate people. And obviously, when distractions come or difficulties come, you have to let that go and let every day be a new day.

And so, I think that's exactly how she handles being a mom, being a grandmother -- the true joy of her life -- and being a friend, and of course, being the Speaker of the House.

BERMAN: The five kids in six years, which you write about, you sort of can't get it out of your head as you're reading the rest of the book, and how she handles everything. And you write about the fact that she often says something in public life that as her daughter, strikes you in a different way.

So I want to play some sound from her, on Thursday, when she's speaking directly to the president, and have you decode it for us. Listen to this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's called an inquiry and if the president has something that is exculpatory -- Mr. President, that means you have anything that shows your innocence -- then he should make that known.


BERMAN: As the author of a book on Nancy Pelosi and someone who has known her your entire life, what did you hear when she said that?

C. PELOSI: I heard what she always told us -- proper preparation prevents poor performance. You need to do your homework, you need to come prepared. And rather than complaining about your homework or arguing about whether or not you should have to do it, just do it.

And so, that's what I hear when I hear her talking now -- the lessons that echo through the ages. Be serious about what you're doing, know your purpose, know your why, and instead of making excuses for why you shouldn't have to do something, just do it.

BERMAN: And you write, sort of, that Nancy Pelosi's words of wisdom -- one of them is there is no luck. The harder I work, the luckier I get.

And one of the things you note throughout the book is since she has become a leader in Congress she has frequently been the only or one of the only women at the table. And certainly throughout the Trump presidency that has been the case just because when congressional leadership goes and sits down at that table she's the only one there sometimes who's the woman at the table.

How has that affected her or what does she -- how does she take that responsibility?

C. PELOSI: She takes that responsibility very seriously.

From when she first started in leadership -- and I went over this story in the book that my mom has told all around the country -- her first time as leader going to the White House and meeting with President George W. Bush and the top leadership, and her realizing that no other woman had been in that position before and having this almost spiritual experience of feeling the suffrages and the abolitionists on the chair with her saying at last we have the seat at the table. And her thought was we want more.

And the lesson for women who, right now -- like my mom did for years and years and years -- are packing lunches, checking homework, pressing uniforms, preparing either carfare or bus fare for their kids is take your seat at the table. Take it as a badge of honor that you are a mom and try to bring other people there. But be confident when you go that you're not -- you're not just there for yourself. You're there for all the people who put you there.

And when you're the only woman or the only person of color, the only gay person, the only person with a disability at the table, you tend to be treated as the only everything other. So it's also important to remember that the first thing you need to do when you get to be the only one at the table is to bring more people -- bring reinforcements.

BERMAN: The book is "The Nancy Pelosi Way" by Christine Pelosi. Thanks so much for being with us this morning.

C. PELOSI: My pleasure. Thanks, John.

CAMEROTA: Really insightful. Great to hear that conversation.

BERMAN: And when she says -- she says sometimes she hears her mother speaking and she can apply the language or the tone to her own life and her own experience. Really interesting.

CAMEROTA: Also, I mean, it's just a great adage -- the harder I work, the luckier I get.


CAMEROTA: I may tell my own children that.

All right. Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next.

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