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Iowa Voters Weigh in on Debate; Sondland's Testimony Yesterday; Smiles and Smirks During Sondland's Testimony; Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is Interviewed about the Democratic Debate and Impeachment. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 21, 2019 - 06:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We're a little more than two months away from the first in the nation caucuses. CNN traveled to Iowa to watch last night's Democratic debate and find out how Iowans feel and who they think won.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is live in Iowa City for us with more.

Tell us everything they told you, Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we've watched all five debates with the same group of loyal Democrats who live here in Johnson County, Iowa, which may be the most reliably Democratic county in the state. And when we met these people in June, they were all undecided. That is slowly changing.

Meanwhile, last night, they believe that the candidates who did the best are not any of the frontrunners.


TUCHMAN: Who do you think stood out of the ten candidates during this debate?

Roseanne (ph)?


TUCHMAN: Ed (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Klobuchar and Warren.

TUCHMAN: Ruthina (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Klobuchar and Booker.

TUCHMAN: Malone (ph)?



TUCHMAN: Scott (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Booker and Buttigieg.

TUCHMAN: Keisha (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Booker and Klobuchar.

TUCHMAN: Temple (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm still with -- with Warren. But I agree that Klobuchar did well tonight.

TUCHMAN: Jenna (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Klobuchar and Booker.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Klobuchar and Booker, the standouts among this group.

TUCHMAN (on camera): When you heard Kamala Harris say this quote, we have a criminal in the White House, did any of you say, yeah, I'm you said that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I've kind of thought that he's been a criminal in plain sight for years.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So part of me does agree with her. The other part of me agrees that we do have to have them follow the rule of law to make it be tenable for most people in the country to agree.

TUCHMAN: I mean certainly he hasn't been convicted of a crime, so he's not a criminal from a legal standpoint. But you're saying that you're concerned that other people in the country will be turned off by that?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I mean we're still in a fact-finding situation right now. So let's -- let's play that out. Let's hear some more, you know, information like we heard the last few days.

TUCHMAN: What stood out to you during this debate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That several candidates noted the need to appeal to black voters, especially black women voters, because with our support we truly can make a difference. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought all of the women candidates did very

well tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I liked what Cory Booker was saying about power and pushing it down so other people can benefit.

TUCHMAN: When we met you, you were all undecided. Between the last time we gathered and now, has anyone made a decision?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have. I'm planning to caucus for Amy Klobuchar.

TUCHMAN: Have you made a decision yet, Ed?


TUCHMAN: Have you made a decision yet?


TUCHMAN: Have you made a decision?


TUCHMAN: Leslie, have you made a decision yet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not a public one because we're still advocating.

TUCHMAN: A private one. A secret one.


TUCHMAN: We're going to have to grill you later.

Scott, have you made a decision?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not made a decision.


TUCHMAN: OK. Keisha (ph)?


TUCHMAN: Temple (ph), you had told us two debates ago Warren was your candidate. Has anything changed? You have that sticker on your red sweatshirt.


TUCHMAN: Still Warren?


TUCHMAN: And, Janice (ph), have you made a decision?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm getting close but not quite there. TUCHMAN: Well, you only have 75 days left to decide.


TUCHMAN: What's so unique about Iowa is that if you're so inclined, it's very easy to personally meet candidates. It's very easy to talk to candidates. So many people here in Iowa, including most of the people on our panel, take it as a point of pride to stay neutral while they continue doing their personal research, often to the very last minute.

Alisyn and John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Very last minute, but we're getting closer. And you could see their decisions are being made.

Gary Tuchman, fascinating to hear from these people every time we have those debates. Appreciate you being there for us.

And we are going to hear from Cory Booker, one of the candidates who was mentioned by a number of these people watching, coming up in just a few minutes.

Meanwhile, a week of just monumental testimony with more witnesses heading to Capitol Hill today in the impeachment inquiry. We're going to talk about the points that were scored yesterday and what happens next.

Stay with us.



BERMAN: We are at this huge moment this morning in the impeachment inquiry. What happened doesn't seem to be in question anymore. The question now is, what will Congress do about it?

Joining us is Michael Smerconish, the host of CNN's "SMERCONISH" and of the "Michael Smerconish" program on Sirius XM.

And, Michael, you watched the hearings. I watched you watch the hearings because I follow you --

CAMEROTA: That must have been fascinating.

BERMAN: I follow you on Twitter avidly.


BERMAN: And one of the things you wrote during, and I want to kick this segment off with this is, you say, my Sondland summary. Number one, the president told him to work with Rudy. Number two, he did. Number three, Rudy executed a quid pro quo. Number four, everyone in the loop. Number five, no counterfactual narrative has been asserted by the White House. Number six, the president tied the hands of his defenders by so often saying no quid pro quo. Number seven, perhaps the most important, now what?

SMERCONISH: John, thank you for following me on Twitter. You're good for my demo.

I think that the morning was distinctly different from the afternoon. That's a tweet that I sent midday.

Gordon Sondland checked all the boxes for those seeking the president's removal. And, initially, I think that Devin Nunes and also Attorney Cator (ph) were flummoxed, flat-footed in terms of how they would respond. I also took note of the fact that the president was not tweeting during the morning session.

And then things shifted. "The Washington Post" has reporting today that the president en route to Austin was himself making telephone calls to sort of buck up the Republicans. They -- they got their sea legs through Stefanik (Ph), through Jordan, through Turner, all members of Congress, obviously. And I think that what they were able to do was give enough to base so that it wasn't a devastating day. And the way in which they did that was, in particular, through Congressman Turner's exchange with Sondland where he was able to drive home the fact that no one had specifically told him that this was a quid pro quo and that it needed to be executed.

And final point I'll make, why does the burden not shift to Mayor Giuliani? When you've got Gordon Sondland under oath saying, look, the president told me to follow Rudy. I followed Rudy. We then executed a quid pro quo. Why does it not fall to Giuliani to have to come in and offer some kind of a rebuttal?

CAMEROTA: Also, Michael, isn't it just absurd that because nobody said, psst, listen this is going to be a quid pro quo that I need you to carry out for me, OK? I mean Gordon Sondland said that it was obvious. Everyone was in the loop. Everybody knew what the president wanted. He was forced to admit there under oath that he presumed it. But, you know, I presume that Jeff Zucker wants me to show up at 6:00 a.m. every day and that I'd be fired if I didn't. He doesn't need to tell me you'll be fired if you don't show up. Like -- I mean the Republicans are really going for the explicit instructions here.

SMERCONISH: I know Jeff Zucker. He wants you to show up at 3:30.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

SMERCONISH: Look, here's the point, if I commit murder and all along I'm saying, no homicide, no homicide, no homicide, it doesn't mean I'm exonerated, right? The perpetrator still committed it. So to rely on what the president expressly was saying to Gordon Sondland -- and also the timing. September 9. When that communication is made to Sondland, already word is on Capitol Hill of the whistleblower. So, of course, there's added incentive to say the magic words.

In the end, I think we are back where we began. Sondland was an incredible witness. If at the outset of the impeachment process you said the ambassador to the EU is going come in and he's going to say these things, I think you'd think, minds will be changed, and yet that doesn't appear to be where we're headed.

BERMAN: You know, as a lawyer, you know this, you don't get a witness this good.


BERMAN: You don't get someone who comes up and says, yes, there was a quid pro quo, yes, the president directed it and, yes, that everyone was in the loop. That doesn't even happen on "Matlock." I mean those witnesses don't exist in TV crime dramas.

You asked a very important question, which doesn't the burden shift to Rudy Giuliani? Why isn't he compelled now to come in and tell his side of the story? And the answer is because the White House isn't interested in getting the truth out there or the facts out there. They're interested in defending the president. If getting the facts out there mattered, they'd let Rudy tell his story. They'd let Mick Mulvaney tell his story.


BERMAN: They'd let John Bolton tell his story. They'd release the documents. They'd let the State Department and the White House give the documentary evidence, if the interest was getting all the facts out there.


But that's not their interest, Michael, is it?

SMERCONISH: So, Adam Schiff, I think, has made a calculus. You were talking about this earlier, that while they'd like to have the testimony of those individuals on the record, that it doesn't, from a timing standpoint, seem to make sense to try and command their appearance and have to litigate, you know, a subpoena and whether it would indeed bring them into the process.

I'm looking forward. To me it's a foregone conclusion that the House of Representatives will impeach the president at some point before Christmas. Now it will shift to the Senate for a trial with Chief Justice Roberts presiding. What will those rules be? How would John Roberts handle some type of an effort by Democrat in the Senate to command the appearance at a trial of any of the people that you've just identified? Put that on the radar screen.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I'd like to put that on the radar screen. That is a good one for the radar screen.

So you're saying that Justice Roberts will be the arbiter of whether or not Giuliani has to show up?

SMERCONISH: Remember, Alisyn, that the Constitution really says next to nothing as to how a Senate trial will be conducted, only that there will be a Senate trial conducted. So Mitch McConnell is going to have a lot of control in terms of establishing what those rules might be. But I think it's entirely foreseeable that Democrats in the Senate

will try and seek to gain some leverage from Roberts and force the hand of a witness to come in and testify.

BERMAN: We'll talk much more about this, but it's much -- it's highly likely that McConnell and Schumer will come together and set the rules that will be voted on before John Roberts walks in that door because they don't want to put Roberts in that situation. Under the Clinton impeachment scenario, they all agreed to the rules beforehand. But, Michael, it is --

CAMEROTA: Should I put that on my radar screen?

BERMAN: Put that on your radar screen.

CAMEROTA: All right, I'll --

BERMAN: We'll talk about that a lot more, I think, probably starting in December, Michael.


BERMAN: Thank you for being with us.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Michael.

I'll put that in my pipe and smoke it.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Sondland's stunning testimony also featured a lot of smirks and smiles.

CNN's Jeanne Moos has the ever-changing moods.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It could leave you in stitches. Wonderful day crocheting and watching the impeachment as they needle each other.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): And moved on to their next asinine theory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Donald Trump your friend?

AMBASSADOR GORDON SONDLAND: I remember the first girl I kissed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He called you, quote/unquote, the Gordon problem.

SONDLAND: That's what my wife calls me.

MOOS: Ambassador Gordon Sondland was laughing, drinking, drinking, and refilling his drink, fidgeting in his seat but generally jolly.

Has anyone ever looked happier to testify in an impeachment hearing than Gordon Sondland?

One body language expert said he was signaling his emotional relief. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president tweeted that you are a really good

man and a great American. One month later he -- he said, let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman.

SONDLAND: Easy come, easy go.

MOOS: It didn't look easy for Ranking Republican Devin Nunes. When the committee took a break, so did his face. Someone put it to music.

Participants could barely curb their enthusiasm for math.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this kind of a two plus two equals four conclusion that you reached?

SONDLAND: Pretty much.

NUNES: Two plus two equals four.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's your two plus two part of the equation, right?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): It's not two plus two, it's zero for three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two presumptions, plus two presumptions, does not equal even one fact.

MOOS: But who's equal to playing Gordon Sondland in the impeachment movie? There were plenty of suggestions, like Howie Mandel.

Someone making a cameo at Tuesday's hearing shot to viral stardom. The reporter guzzling coffee behind the witness told Slate, luckily I didn't miss my mouth as she gulped down the last drops.

Samantha Bee noted this pair of enthusiastic spectators, when you get put on the Jumbotron at the impeachment hearing.

The star witness so far seemed almost giddy, until the chairman called a break --

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Get a bite to eat.

MOOS: That risked making Sondland miss his flight.

Now, that's an impeachable facial expression.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BERMAN: You know what I saw when I was watching Gordon Sondland is a guy with a couple hundred million dollars who, when all this is over, is going to have a couple hundred million dollars.

CAMEROTA: He's still going to have a million dollars. So --

BERMAN: And, you know, why not have a good time. CAMEROTA: He seemed to be enjoying major parts of it. I agree. Maybe it was just the dollars talking.


CAMEROTA: All right, many of the Democratic candidates focused their attention at least night's debate on former Vice President Joe Biden. Senator Cory Booker joins us next on his strategy to stay in the race and at the debate.




SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have a lot of respect for the vice president. He is -- swore me into my office as a hero. This week I hear him literally say that I don't think we should legalize marijuana. I thought you might have been high when you said it. And -- and --


CAMEROTA: Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Cory Booker took on former VP Biden and some of his other Democratic rivals last night at the debate in Atlanta. His campaign says it paid off.

Senator Booker joins us now from Atlanta.

Good morning, senator.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good morning. Good morning from -- is Atlanta supposed to be this cold?

CAMEROTA: Oh, how could is it?

BOOKER: I'm not sure of the temperature, but I can see my breath, so -- but it's keeping my awake, which is really nice.

CAMEROTA: Very good. Did you accomplish what you wanted to last night?

BOOKER: No, we still have a little bit to go, but the first hour after the debate was indeed beat our best day of fundraising. But, look, we're not on the December debate yet and -- debate stage yet and I need people's help. So if folks want me to stay on that stage, please go to and help because we've got a little bit of a way to go.

CAMEROTA: And you said that in your closing argument and it seems to have worked in that your campaign manager tweeted this out one hour after you made that plea. She said, we just cleared $200,000 in the 30 minutes since Cory Booker gave that closing. Team Cory, let's keep the hash tag good trouble going.

So do you have a total that you can share now with how much you have raised in these ten hours?

BOOKER: So I've been asking for those numbers. I haven't got them yet. But the momentum is extraordinary. And I think people are responding, as they've done at other points in our campaign where we needed the help to stay in this.

And this is the thing, these are new rules in the Democratic Party. If the old ones applied, we'd be in great shape because nobody who was ever polling ahead at this point has ever gone on from our party to be president of the United States. And so from Carter at 1 percent to Bill Clinton at 4 percent right now, to Obama, 21 points behind Hillary Clinton, we now lead all other campaigns in endorsements in Iowa and New Hampshire.


We are number third in net favorability in Iowa. We have a lot of the things necessary to win in Iowa. But, God, we need to hit those fundraising marks. And we don't have the name recognition of a Biden or a Bernie, but we need folks help right now.

CAMEROTA: Speaking of money, another moment of yours last night was when you went after Senator Elizabeth Warren for a popular prong of her platform, and that's the tax on billionaires.

So let me play that moment for everyone.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Two cents on the top one-tenth of 1 percent in this country and we can provide universal child care for every baby in this country age zero to five. That is transformative.

BOOKER: The wealth tax, I'm sorry, it's cumbersome, it's been tried by other nations, it's hard to evaluate. We can get the same amount of revenue through just taxation.


CAMEROTA: So, Senator, just help us understand, are you opposed to taxing the super rich more?

BOOKER: No. Everybody on that stage wants to tax the super wealthy. Even the billionaire on that stage wants to tax the billionaires more. But we've got to do it in a way that can work and that actually is something that can be enforced. And this is just not. We notice --

CAMEROTA: But why doesn't two cents on every billion over 50 billion work?

BOOKER: Because it is hard to evaluate. Other nations have tried this. You literally have to assess every single year somebody's wealth from the paintings on their wall, to the -- to the value of their farm. It would -- people would be fighting that in court. It would take years to figure out. And they want to do this every single year. There are better ways to do this to get revenue. My plan is much, much

better. Love Elizabeth. Love the intention behind it, but we can find a way to do fair, just taxation.

And the other point I made last night is, let's not just talk from the Democratic Party stage only about how we are going to split up the pie and more fairly tax it, which I really, really want to do. But let's talk about how to grow the pie. We need to start -- begin to talk about more about entrepreneurialism, about growing our economy, because new business starts are down. And people who aren't usually included in entrepreneurs, minority women for example are the fastest growing entrepreneurs, but new business starts are down and they don't have access to capital.

So, yes, I want to find a just, fair tax way. We have too many tax loopholes. Corporations playing net zero tax. Enough of that. But we also need, as a Democratic Party, need to talk about how we create well and expand opportunity because the wealth gap is bad, but the opportunity gap in our country is even worse.

CAMEROTA: Senator, I want to ask you about the impeachment inquiry. Yesterday it seemed to reach a head with Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony. I want to play for you something that you said about all of this, about what would happen when the facts came out. You said this back on September 26th. So let me play this moment for you.


BOOKER: We are just on the foothills of a mountain of evidence that will come out in the coming days and weeks. And I have faith at the end of the day, knowing a lot of my colleagues like I do, that some of them will have the courage to stand up.


CAMEROTA: You said that some of your, I guess, Republican colleagues, would have the courage to stand up. You said that on September 26th. Would you like to amend that prediction today?

BOOKER: Well, you know, that -- there's a mountain of evidence that come out yesterday was an avalanche. I really don't know how you look at that and not understand that this president -- whether you want to say it crosses the line for impeachment, but for us to not say with a full throated truth that this president has truly conducted himself in ways that are just morally wrong.

And the other thing they should be asking for is, OK, now it's time to get the next wave of people. Do not let this president just stonewall or obstruct by not allowing people to come forward and testify.

Rudy Giuliani should come before the American public and Congress and testify. For them not to do so is abjectly unacceptable.

So there's still a lot more to go. The evidence is -- I still remain a prisoner of hope that folks will do the right thing. But that's also why I'm -- CAMEROTA: You do? I mean, because, listen -- listen, Senator, I mean the reason that I'm asking you is because after yesterday's -- you know, many people considered there to be bombshells when Ambassador Gordon Sondland said, yes, there was a quid pro quo. And what you heard from all of the Republicans thus far was, well, you know, he didn't hear anything directly from the president's mouth. He presumed all of this. They're just not following the path that you predicted that they would. And why do you think that is true?

BOOKER: Well, listen, there -- there are a whole bunch of chiropractors in Washington, D.C., that are going to get a lot of business because of the way the Republicans are contorting themselves to try to not say something negative about this president, when obviously -- obviously this person is doing things that are violating the sanctity and the honor of that office.

And so I'm not sure how this is going to play out. There's more to go.


But I'm also working very hard out here that should he still be in office when it comes to the election, I -- I am prepared to take him on and to beat him.