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Storm System Threatens Thanksgiving Travel; Texans Beat Colts; Closer to Articles of Impeachment; Former FBI Lawyer Altered Documents in Russia Probe; Dems Move Closer to Impeachment. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 22, 2019 - 06:30   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: A major storm system is threatening the central U.S. and the northeast. It could complicate travel plans for the Thanksgiving holiday.

CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray has our forecast.

Say it ain't so.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's true. And then when travel gets really busy next week, we'll be watching two more systems. So a lot to get to, of course.

We do have one across the south right now. That will be making its way to the east.

This weather update is brought to you by Kay, where your love story is always the most important one of all.

Here's what we're talking about. This system that's impacting the south, that's going to make its way to the northeast as we go throughout the day. Forecast radar shows all of the rain pushing offshore by the time we get into this evening.

But here's another round of rain on Saturday impacting the southeast, once again hitting the northeast by the time we get into Saturday night into Sunday. And then that one will be pushing out and then we'll have yet another round by the time we get into mid-week next week.

Here's your rain accumulation. Anywhere across the south, we could see an inch or two. Once you get up into the northeast, say portions of Jersey, Long Island could see two inches of rain over the next couple of days.

High temperatures pretty uniform across the northern tier of the country. Chicago pretty chilly, though. High temperature is 37 degrees today. A little bit below normal. But a lot of temperatures across this region are actually right around normal. Some areas even a little bit above. So here's your holiday travel. And these are the next two systems

we'll be watching. This is Wednesday, 7:00 a.m. And you can see this area of low pressure in the Midwest could be impacting big cities like Chicago, all the way down to the south. And we'll also have, at the same time, one impacting the west.

So, John, as people are traveling, could get a little hairy across the Midwest and the West Coast.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Not good because all the rain this weekend, just too wet for me to do yard work outside. Guess I'll have to watch TV.

GRAY: Guess so.

BERMAN: Jennifer Gray, thanks so much for being with us.

CAMEROTA: Jennifer's orders.

BERMAN: Yes, she told me I had to. I have to watch football.


BERMAN: So, President Trump will hold a White House listening session today on the health risks from vaping. This as the administration appears to have backed off a promise to ban flavored e-cigarettes in the face of all this. The CDC says the number of vaping related lung injury cases has risen to more than 2,200. Forty-seven people have died in 25 states from vaping related injuries.

CAMEROTA: New this morning, Philippines Airlines and more than 300 passengers are praising the pilot of this Manila-bound flight after an engine started spitting fire, they say.


This was shortly after takeoff from Los Angeles. This was the view from inside the plane you're about to see. OK, this was a dad recording as his little girl sat by the window. Oh, my goodness, how scary. The plane lost an engine but thankfully the FAA says the pilot pulled off this emergency landing, quote, without incident. I'd call this incident, you know?

BERMAN: It's incident, but a good pilot there making food decisions.


BERMAN: All right, so Tesla unveiled its first electric pickup. The Cybertruck. Looks like something out of a comic book there. Elon Musk, who runs Tesla, put the truck through its paces to demonstrate its ruggedness. It turns out it can withstand bullets and a sledge hammer.

CAMEROTA: Oh, good. Good, I need that.

BERMAN: But what about the armored glass windows?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Well, maybe that was a little too hard.




CAMEROTA: All right. They're going to have to go back to the drawing board with that one.

BERMAN: He joked that they will fix it in post. I mean I'm not sure that your windows need to withstand someone throwing a brick at them.

CAMEROTA: Oh, maybe not yours, John.

BERMAN: Well, that's a good point.

CAMEROTA: Maybe not yours.

BERMAN: That's a good point.

So the Houston Texans came through with a huge comeback over the Colts to take control of the AFC South.

Andy Scholes with the "Bleacher Report."



You know, still five weeks left in the NFL season, but this is a big win for Deshaun Watson and the Texans. They now have firm control of their division. They were down multiple times in this game, down 7-3 in the second quarter. Watson going to scramble around. Then he's going to find a wide open DeAndre Hopkins for the touchdown. And these two would hook up again in the game, fourth quarter, trailing by four, Watson hits Hopkins in stride for the go-ahead touchdown. Texans hold on for the big win 20-17. After each one of those touchdown receptions, Hopkins handing the ball to his biggest fan, his mom, sitting in the front row. She's legally blind after having acid thrown in her face back in 2002.

All right, the NFL announcing yesterday that they are upholding the Browns Myles Garrett indefinite suspension for hitting Steeler's quarterback Mason Rudolph with a helmet. It's the longest suspension for an on-field incident in NFL history. Now, a new wrinkle in this case came out yesterday. According to reports, Garrett told the NFL in his hearing that Rudolph said a racial slur towards him during the skirmish.

And once that news got out, Garrett releasing a statement saying, this was not meant for public dissemination, nor was it a convenient attempt to justify my actions or restore my image in the eyes of those I disappointed. I know what I heard. Whether my opponent's comment was born out of frustration or ignorance, I cannot say, but his actions do not excuse my lack of restraint in the moment. Now Rudolph, though his attorney, vehemently denied using any kind of racial slur and says the attack on his integrity is worse than the assault that occurred during the game.

And, guys, the NFL said they looked into the racial slur allegation and found no such evidence.

CAMEROTA: Wow, what an update.

OK, Andy, thank you very much.

So Democrats are moving ahead with impeachment without hearing from a number of key witnesses. Do they need the testimony of people like John Bolton? And could we end up hearing from John Bolton as this process moves forward?

That's next.




DR. FIONA HILL, FORMER TOP NSC RUSSIA AND EUROPE ADVISER: You tell Eisenberg, Ambassador Bolton told me, that I am not part of the -- this whatever drug deal that Mulvaney and Sondland are cooking up.


CAMEROTA: Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Pompeo, and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney have emerged as key players in the Ukraine scandal, but Democrats are moving forward this morning, it seems, without ever hearing from them.

Let's bring in CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish. He is host of CNN's Smerconish.

So, Michael, Fiona Hill sure had a lot of information about how John Bolton, the former national security adviser, felt in real-time as they were watching this scheme unfold.

I want to play one more moment for you of what she said his reaction to Rudy Giuliani was. Watch this.


DR. FIONA HILL, FORMER TOP NSC RUSSIA AND EUROPE ADVISER: Ambassador Bolton had looked pained, basically indicated with body language that there was nothing much that we could do about it. And he then, in the course of that discussion said that Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CAMEROTA: Michael, it would sure be interesting to hear from John Bolton.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So maybe from a pro- impeachment standpoint you've already got the best of Bolton in the record through Fiona Hill and through Ambassador Taylor with that testimony that he offered about being directed to send a first-person cable to Secretary Pompeo without the liability that might be attached to Bolton.

And what might that be, Alisyn? It might be that when you put Bolton in front of that committee, you're going to open the door for him to offer an expansive view of presidential power. So maybe the thinking is, it's just not worth the litigation, the timing, momentum is on the side, seemingly, of the Democrats. And to slow the process down, bring in Bolton and open him up to cross examination just might not be worth it.

CAMEROTA: That's a really interesting perspective, he might pull a Gordon Sondland and just be unpredictable on the stand and Democrats don't want to take that chance.



BERMAN: Well, except Gordon Sondland said, among other things, there was a quid pro quo. Everyone was in on it. And the president directed me.

CAMEROTA: Oh, he was valuable, but he was a wildcard.

BERMAN: If he's Gordon Sondland, I think the Democrats would be willing to take that.

I have a bit of exclusive reporting on John Bolton, Michael Smerconish, which is, during Fiona Hill's testimony yesterday, John Bolton was walking on Fifth Avenue, neither listening to nor watching her. How do I know that? Because he walked right by me as I was walking up Fifth Avenue, which is only to say that he's not fixated on all of this. It's not like John Bolton is hanging on every second of what's going on.

CAMEROTA: And I guess neither were you, hmm?

BERMAN: I was listening to it.


BERMAN: I was listening to it avidly.

Michael, my question is, is, you know, we know the risks for Democrats right now. Everyone's saying the Democrats are rushing -- there are Republican critics of the Democrats saying you're rushing impeachment. You're going to do this without a single Republican vote. It's not going to be bipartisan. I get that risk for Democrats. What's the risk for Republicans though now in circling the wagons and saying, despite all this evidence, we just don't see the point in going through with impeachment.

What could be the lasting harm for them?

SMERCONISH: The lasting harm for them would be if a case has been made. And, frankly, I think the dust needs to settle for a couple of days. It's -- I'm hesitant to weigh in immediately say, well, they're not going to be able to meet their burden and get enough Republicans to support them. Twenty senators in the United States Senate.

But the risk for Republicans is that a compelling case has been offered, that more testimony might come forth. You know, there's no reason why theoretically the Judiciary Committee couldn't also hear some testimony. I think it's unlikely, but it's theoretically possible.

And we don't know the rules of how this is going to play itself out in a Senate trial. And, theoretically, there could be new information forthcoming.

I mean, look, we didn't know who David Holmes was until we heard from Ambassador Taylor, right? So there are still some surprises that could be forthcoming in all of this. That's a risk for Republicans.

CAMEROTA: All right, Michael Smerconish, thank you very much for standing by these past two weeks and giving us your analysis every day about all of this.

SMERCONISH: My pleasure.

CAMEROTA: Be sure to watch "SMERCONISH" tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

BERMAN: Tomorrow I might do some reporting from Madison Avenue or Park Avenue. I may move over from Fifth.

CAMEROTA: I look forward to hearing who you see there.

BERMAN: We'll just -- we'll just have to wait and see.

So, a former FBI lawyer accused of altering a document related to the Mueller investigation. CNN's new reporting is next.



BERMAN: All right, this morning, sources tell CNN that a former FBI lawyer is under criminal investigation for allegedly altering a document related to the 2016 surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. This is part of the Justice Department inspector general probe into the origins of the Russia investigation. And this is a story CNN broke last night.

CNN's Evan Perez, part of the team that broke that story, he joins us now live from Washington.

What are you learning about this individual and the alleged offense, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this is a former lawyer for the FBI, who no longer works for the FBI, and the person was involved in preparing some of the information that was used for this FISA, this surveillance order, court ordered surveillance order against Carter Page, who worked as a Trump campaign adviser. This happened back in 2016.

As you mentioned, this is part of an inspector general report. Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, is due to provide a report on looking back at what happened at the FBI in 2016 in a couple of weeks. And so one of the findings is that this -- this lawyer, at the time a lawyer at the FBI, altered a document that was used in some part of the process of preparing one of the warrants that was used against Carter Page. \

Now, there's a lot we don't know about this incident and about this report. We have a report from "The Washington Post" this morning that says that in the end it didn't really make a difference in the court approval of the -- of the FISA. And that certainly seems like the case. That was plenty of reasons for the FBI to do this surveillance of Carter Page and certainly every piece of evidence that we've seen indicates that there was plenty of reasons for the FBI to open this investigation into the activities of the Russians and their connections -- possible connections to people connected with Donald Trump's campaign.

So we're still waiting for this report. Obviously it's coming on December 9th. And it's going to be a very broad report that looks into whether the FBI handled this investigation properly, whether they handled Christopher Steele, the former British spy, that was -- that produced that dossier that was also a part of this investigation. This lawyer, by the way, the former lawyer for the FBI, is now under criminal investigation by John Durham, who's the prosecutor that Bill Barr, the attorney general, as appointed to take another look at the investigators who brought forward this Russia investigation in 2016, John.

BERMAN: All right, Evan. Evan Perez, thanks so much for that reporting. Appreciate it.

PEREZ: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: All right, so after two weeks of public testimony and hours of evidence being presented, House Democrats are moving forward. What are the political risks for them in the next steps of the impeachment process?

Joining us now is CNN political commentator Jennifer Psaki. She's the former White House communications director under President Obama.

Jen, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: OK, so do you see flashing red lights ahead for Democrats in terms of political risks or do you see smooth sailing?

PSAKI: Well, look, I think there have always been flashing red lights ahead. They didn't move forward with this because it was the right political strategy. And what you can -- you know that because of Nancy Pelosi and other leaders -- members of the leadership in the House were holding back on moving forward with impeachment for months. But they did move forward because they felt they couldn't allow the precedent to be for the president of the United States, any president of either party, to be able to attempt to bribe a political foreign power for personal gain. So the politics have always been tricky for the Democrats.

Now, there are some risks. If you look at the polling of -- there's been a lot of polling, but some of the -- some of the themes that have come out of it are that, one, people are fatigued. They're tired. They don't know the difference between the investigation into -- that Mueller led and these investigations. And Democrats who are leading this need to really focus on explaining that and what changed, how the Ukraine situation is different from the Mueller investigation, even if it builds on it.

Also, people want to talk -- continue -- people across the country want to keep talking about things that matter to them, health care, the economy, climate change. And when members go back to their districts, they need to have a good answer on where they are on impeachment, but they also need to lead with what matters to people that they're going to speak to who they represent.

CAMEROTA: And so given all of that, sometimes we hear some rumblings that it would be possible for Speaker Pelosi to call for a pause. So, you know, there's one timeline which is they're speeding towards a vote, they're speeding towards a Senate trial, and then there's another where they could call for a pause, let everything sort of hang, marinate for a while.


Which one is less politically risky?

PSAKI: That's an interesting theory. You know, I've talked to her office and her -- some members of her team and, you know, their theory is that the Republicans are out there, you know, projecting a message we should expect, from the White House and from Kevin McCarthy, that they're going to keep the members of their party together. It is the party of Trump. People are scared of the Republican base. There's a political argument to be made there.

But what they know and what I know from -- from following these issues and tough votes for many years is that people take some time to marinate. We have some time to marinate over the next couple of weeks. Members are going back to their districts. They're going to hear from their constituents and people living in their districts. There's been a lot of attention paid to this. And people often don't announce where they're going to be on a tough vote like this until right before.

So I -- I would -- I would -- I would not -- I don't think they're going to delay or do a pause, but I do think, you know, Michael Smerconish made this point, we didn't know about David Holmes until this whole process started. We don't know what's going to happen over the next couple of weeks, including how people who are, you know, going home to their districts and seeing people they represent, are -- how they're going to hear from people, you know, across the country. So there's some time. I think Speaker Pelosi's office is betting on the fact that there are some Republicans who are still on the fence about this and they could be late deciders.

CAMEROTA: Maybe. I mean I don't know if we have much evidence of that.

But speaking of something we don't know, it's how a Senate trial would play out. Is there fear among Democrats that it could be a Pandora's box since we hear Republicans saying that they would want to call Hunter Biden, the whistleblower, Adam Schiff, et cetera. So that -- does it seem to you things are about to get riskier?

PSAKI: They certainly could. Senate -- the Senate is controlled by Republicans. And not just that. When there's a Senate trial, if there's a Senate trial, which it certainly seems to be heading that way, the White House's lawyers have a great deal of power of who they call to testify.

Now, there could be a political argument about that as that happens. But that becomes more difficult for Democrats especially -- and also it could be long and it could go into the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucus.

Now, what Democrats feel pretty good about is looking at how this has played out in the recent elections that we've seen across the country, in Louisiana and in Kentucky where the gubernatorial candidates, the Republicans, ran against impeachment and that hurt them a great deal in -- in the outcome. And Democrats were also energized by the fact that -- that the Republicans were running against impeachment and they were energized by what was happening in Washington.

So it can play a couple different ways on the politics of it. But you're absolutely right, when it goes to the Senate, the Democrats are no longer in control. The White House has a great deal of power. The chief justice has a great deal of power. And they won't be able to, as Adam Schiff, I think, has very effectively done, control the narrative and control the flow of the hearings.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about something Dr. Fiona Hill said yesterday when she testified, and that was basically the regrettable by-product, as she saw it, of all of this, which is, you know, what this has done for life-long diplomats, foreign service agents --


CAMEROTA: People who never saw themselves as partisan. I'll quote her. Our nation is being torn apart. Truth is being questioned. Our highly professional expert career foreign service is being undermined, is being politicized.

Do you think that that is the upshot of all of this?

PSAKI: I think it's a big part of the upshot. It's not as sexy as, you know, whether or not the president will be impeached. But I served for two and a half years in the State Department. As a political appointee, I have met and worked around a number of the people who have testified or have been mentioned in a lot of these stories. This is the last thing they're looking for. They're not looking for the limelight. They're not political. They're not partisan. I would never know what party they liked or didn't like, which presidents they liked or didn't like.

And there are some facts -- and she spoke about this very effectively as well, like Russia intervened in the election in 2016. That's something that the intelligence community agreed on. And now it's become questioned.

So what I see and when I talk to friends who are still there serving around the world, you know, they worry, in the coming -- in the short- term how this impacts them. Are they -- do they need lawyers? Are they going to have to testify?

But in the long term, are people going to be -- want to be part of the foreign service and serve as public servants throughout their careers. They're watching this.

CAMEROTA: Right, the talent drain that might happen.

Jen Psaki, thank you very much for all of your expertise on this.

PSAKI: Thank you.


BERMAN: Look, I hope there's no talent drain. We need more people like Fiona Hill, not fewer.

So, within the next 30 days, for just the third time in U.S. history, it looks like a president of the United States will be impeached.

NEW DAY continues right now.



DR. FIONA HILL, FORMER TOP NSC RUSSIA AND EUROPE ADVISER: He was being involved in a domestic political errand. And we were being involved in national security foreign policy.

DAVID HOLMES: The president's voice was loud