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Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) Discusses House Judiciary Inviting Trump, His Counsel to 1st Impeachment Hearing; 2 Powerful Winter Storms Threaten Thanksgiving Travel; Dartmouth Students Voice Concerns of Voter Suppression in New Hampshire; New GDP Numbers Show Strong Economic Growth. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 27, 2019 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[11:30:00]

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan.

Good to have you with us.

I'm curious, do you expect either the president or his counsel to show up?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I'd never make the mistake of speaking for the president or his counsel. I think it's well established that it's unpredictable. They've initially sent out signals that they may not.

But when we set up this process, it was set up to be fair and balanced. And it was to allow him to have a presence as we begin to have these discussions, to have his lawyer be able to ask questions. I would encourage him to participate, to let the American people see his side, let them ask questions.

I don't know what he's going to do. I do know that was established so it would be a fair and balances process and a transparent process.

HILL: We'll be able to see. We're supposed to know by Sunday. Sunday evening is the deadline for --

DINGELL: They won't engage in deadlines until we're actually sitting in that hearing, although the chairman might agree with me.

HILL: We'll leave that --

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: We'll let you two fight that out.

The last time Chairman Nadler and the committee held a high-profile hearing investigating the president was with Corey Lewandowski, and that turned into a bit of a circus. So how do you ensure this time around it's not the same result?

DINGELL: I think the way this process was set up to visit this, I think it's very important that the American people understand what the issues are, which is why Chairman Schiff, with the Intelligence Committee, opened up the hearings, let as much be public as could be without endangering our national security. He will take that report and report it to the Judiciary Committee.

I do think that Republicans are going to try to turn it into a bit of a zoo. But I think the subject is serious. I think it's a very sad time for our country.

And I think there's going to be another witness. They will be trying to establish what is impeachable, what are the standards for someone to -- for us to consider what the impeachment is and then make that recommendation to the House of Representatives.

I think that's very important. I think it's important we be open and transparent.

HILL: You are hopeful they won't turn it into a circus?

DINGELL: Yes. I think that Chairman Nadler is going to try very hard not to do this.

HILL: Your Democratic colleague from Michigan, Brenda Lawrence --

DINGELL: Yes.

HILL: -- walking back comments she made. She's gone on to say she is committed to impeachment. But she also told CNN she would like to see the Senate take a vote to censure him and is looking at censure.

If you look at this, whether to commit to impeachment or not, comments are being made -- in the state of Michigan, people are looking closely at Michigan leading into 2020. There's a lot of question about how all of there's playing at home with constituents and how much that's informing where you all are at.

DINGELL: I will be clear what I think my job is. I took an oath to protect our Constitution and our national security. I actually was at a very different place then.

But Brenda is my colleagues and I respect her. I did not come out for impeachment last summer, when she and a number of my colleagues did. I'm very worried about how divided this country was. And there was a lot of talk and things that bothered me. But advocates and moveon.org was targeting me.

But I thought it was very important that if anything were to happen we were to understand why.

So I did not come out for a process to investigate the facts until a Republican-appointed -- a President Trump appointed inspector general determined that some -- a credible report had been made by a whistleblower, that it was credible, urgent, and a danger to our Democratic security. My job is to protect our democracy, our Constitution and our national security. So there's real cause. And I think we've heard disturbing things in

the Intelligence Committee. But I'm waiting to read what their report is and then see what goes to the Judiciary Committee.

I hope that -- I'm not going vote for partisan reasons. I am not going to vote because the polls in Michigan show this or that. I'm going to do what's the right thing to do. Because nobody is above the rule of the lawsuit.

HILL: From what I'm hearing, you are reserving final judgment.

We have the CNN polling. The most recent polling. The needle hasn't moved, as you know. It still shows half of the American people support impeaching and removing the president. And it's that last bit that --

DINGELL: It's very divisive.

HILL: -- is complicated.

DINGELL: When I'm home and I'm talking to people who impeach, impeach, impeach, I say to them -- I'm not afraid to say this. I probably said it 10 times in speeches in the last five days -- is I'm going to protect this Constitution. I'm going to do my job.

But it's important to be an open and transparent process, the American people, understand what the issues are.

And I say to them, I'm going to do a reality check for you. Not everybody understands the issues. You know, not everybody feels as strongly and as emotional as you do. And you've got to give the American people time to digest what the issues are, why people are talking about this, and not make this -- this isn't a good time for our country. This is a sad time that we are even considering this.

[11:35:19]

I never thought I'd have to -- or to pray that I'd never have to think about an impeachment vote.

And it's very important that people who do think that he should be impeached, let the process work and let people understand why and not divide us further.

HILL: Is there anything to support, yes or no, that you see at this point that says to you this behavior is not only impeachable but that he should be removed from office?

DINGELL: I'm waiting to see what the Judiciary -- I want to read the intelligence report, see what the Judiciary reports to the House, see their hearings, what is an impeachable offense, high crimes and misdemeanors.

And I'm doing my job seriously and not jumping to conclusions but letting the process work. I think that's my job right now, is to protect our democracy, and our democracy says let that happen. HILL: Congresswoman, I appreciate you coming in today.

DINGELL: Thank you.

HILL: Have a happy Thanksgiving.

(CROSSTALK)

DINGELL: It's tough. But, I'm keeping the House in good session.

HILL: There you go. We need someone to do that.

(CROSSTALK)

DINGELL: We need somebody to do that.

HILL: Thank you.

DINGELL: Thank you.

HILL: Still to come, it is one of the busiest travel days of the year and two massive storms are threatening Thanksgiving travel plans for millions. We are live in Minnesota with an update on those weather conditions. Plus, a look at what else is coming your way. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:41:14]

HILL: Depending on where you are headed and how you are traveling, this Thanksgiving holiday, the weather may make your journey chaotic to say the very least.

Here's a look at Denver.

Two major storms are impacting the weather across much of the country.

CNN's Ryan Young is joining me now from Minneapolis.

Ryan, it looks like you are getting a bit of a break. It's been a lot of white stuff over the last several hours.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. At first, we went to bed, there was no snow overnight. Overnight, more than nine inches hit the ground. You can see what's left here. Luckily, the snow stopped a few hours ago. So what we've seen so far is improving conditions.

But guess what, more than 300 spinouts. More than 180 accidents in this area.

But at the airport, from what we are told, since the snow fell overnight, not many delays at the airport, so people are able to get out. That was a real concern. In fact, talking to pilots this morning, they thought it was good news for air travel. But when you look back at the road, that's the real situation here,

with more 50 million people expected to be traveling over the next few hours or so for Thanksgiving. Look.

Erica, I know you're from Connecticut, so you're used to this, the idea that snow falls, then they try to clear the road, then you that freeze over on the road that creates all those slick spots.

Of course, the cold doesn't help with the conditions either. But the whole idea here is improving conditions as the snow has stopped so far. We will have to see what's out there over the next few hours.

HILL: You know me and my New England roots well, Ryan. Hardy there in the Midwest, too.

Ryan, thank you.

YOUNG: Thank you.

HILL: Twenty-one million people are under some sort of winter storm watch, warning or advisory right now.

CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers, is joining us now with more on that.

That's a whole big swath of the country.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It really is. Two storms, one in the east, one in the west. The one in the west will actually affect us in the east on Sunday, right when everybody is trying to get home.

The real travel problems right now are northeast here, moved up into Indianapolis. And south of D.C. on I-95, very, very slow. But out to the west, trying to get over here, over to the Sierra or the grapevine, an absolute headache with winds of 30 and some places 36 inches of snow, trying to get cleared out of the way with those road crews.

There are your watches around warnings. I can't even talk about them all.

Across the east, it's all wind. Chicago, 54 miles per hour. Just to the south and into Cleveland and Detroit, also very, very windy today.

So here's the story. We run away with the rain for tonight into tomorrow. Then it's much better. So tomorrow is a pretty good day to travel if you haven't done it today.

But later on tonight, that's when we will begin to see the airports certainly slow down. All the red spots going to have at least an hour delay as it starts to get packed with people getting out of work.

HILL: Chad, a lot of questions about the Macy's parade balloons. Right now, does it look like they'll fly?

MYERS: This is one we have been working on all day long. They will not fly if the gusts are over 34 miles per hour. The forecast gusts in my office at 10:30 is 34 miles per hour.

It won't be a problem with the sustained winds. It's the gusts. When it gets through some of those buildings, you'll get that wind-tunnel effect in New York City. I think it's a game time decision. At 7:00 or 8:00, it will look great. Winds will be 20, perfect. But by 11:00, 12:00, that's when it starts to get risky. We'll see what they do.

HILL: Right when Santa is getting ready to come down at the end there.

All right. Chad, happy Thanksgiving.

MYERS: To you, too.

[11:44:42]

Still to come, college students in New Hampshire say their voting rights are being suppressed. We will look at what's behind the new law causing the controversy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HILL: A controversial New Hampshire law is raising concerns about voter suppression. The Republican-backed measure bars part-time residents from voting. And there are concerns that it would prevent thousands of college students from casting ballots.

CNN's Jason Carroll spoke with students at Dartmouth about their concerns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[11:50:03]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you guys registered to vote?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For years, college-aged voters have been called apathetic or unreliable when it comes to turning up at the polls. But the 2018 midterm elections changed some of that perspective. Young people, including those in college, voted in historic numbers.

MAGGIE FLAHERTY, JUNIOR AT DARTMOUTH UNIVERSITY: I think we've seen young people in my generation really start to become more politically engaged in these past several years.

CARROLL: Maggie Flaherty is a junior at Dartmouth University in New Hampshire, a state with the highest per-capita rate of college students than any other state in the country.

Flaherty says she and many of her friends are eager to vote in 2020, but she fears a controversial state law will discourage other students from getting to the polls.

FLAHERTY: It's not that they're taking away our right to vote, it's that they're making it more difficult and confusing for us to vote.

CARROLL: It's called H.B.-1264. It's a Republican-backed law that changed the definition of residency and automatically makes anyone who registers to vote a resident of New Hampshire.

Critics of the law say it requires out-of-state students who drive to pay fees for new state driver's licenses and car registrations just so they can vote.

Flaherty is one of two Dartmouth students represented by the ACLU who filed suit against state officials calling the law unconstitutional.

HENRY KLEMENTOWICZ, STAFF ATTORNEY, ACLU OF NEW HAMPSHIRE: We believe these people were targeted with this law to put these burdens and confusion on them to discourage them from voting.

CARROLL: Those who support H.B.-1264 say it is not an election law.

ANNE EDWARDS, NEW HAMPSHIRE ASSOCIATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: The argument that this is an attempt at voter suppression by the state is an unfair argument and it's an incorrect argument.

CARROLL: Regardless, the law is already having a chilling effect. Eliza Gallant and Miles Brown run campus voter registration drives at Dartmouth.

CARROLL (on camera): What are some of the things that some of your peers are saying?

ELIZA GALLANT, FRESHMAN AT DARTMOUTH UNIVERSITY: They're saying like, oh, I don't think I can vote in New Hampshire.

MILES BROWN, FRESHMAN AT DARTMOUTH UNIVERSITY: I think they're definitely trying to take advantage of college-aged students who probably, if they have to put in a ton of effort to figure out how to vote, will be less likely to.

CARROLL (voice over): Pollsters also getting an earful from students, not just in New Hampshire, but from across the country.

JOHN DELLA VOLPE, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF POLITICS, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: They're concerned about access to our democracy.

CARROLL: Other states, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin, with varying laws, also facing similar claims of trying to suppress the youth vote.

College-aged voters, 18 to 24-year-olds, historically lean Democrat. No surprise, Democratic lawmakers speaking out about what they say are efforts to suppress those votes.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I don't think that it's a secret that the Republican Party has been engaged in very questionable behavior when it comes to voter suppression.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & SOUTH BEND MAYOR: What you see happening with the effort to suppress the student vote here in New Hampshire is really a strike against democracy.

CARROLL: Maggie Flaherty says the lawsuit is one way to strike back.

FLAHERTY: Hopefully, there will be some clarity soon and, hopefully, there will be answers soon. But right now, we're in the fight.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, Hanover, New Hampshire.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HILL: Just ahead, the new GDP numbers are out and America's economy is growing faster than expected. What's fueling that growth? We'll find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:58:06]

HILL: Good news for the economy this morning. The GDP growth has been revised up to 2.1 percent. That's higher than the second quarter and it's growing at a faster rate than experts initially expected.

CNN business correspondent, Cristina Alesci, joins me now.

So what's fueling the growth and the good news?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS & BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Erica, the consumer is feeling really good and continues to spend. This is a win that Trump can spin as evidence that he's generating economic growth.

The 2.1 percent growth from the third quarter, which was revised up from an earlier estimate, is notable because so many analysts and investors have been worried about a possible downturn.

Those concerns really stem from Trump's trade policies but also because the economy has been expanding for so long that economists are worried it can't go on forever.

But apparently consumers think it can. They keep spending because of the very strong labor market. Also, Trump, to his credit, has been able to inspire confidence.

Now, the growth number is also pushing markets higher. The S&P hit 10 new all-time highs this month. This also plays into Trump's narrative. Remember, in September, he said the markets would crash if he's not reelected.

So the headline number is good, no doubt about it. But let's dig in a little and see what's really happening with the economy.

First, the 2.1 percent growth number isn't that different from the kind of growth that Obama generated. Secondarily, businesses in general are less optimistic than the

consumer. They're pulling back on business activity, like buying software, investing in research and development. All of that fell by 2.7 percent.

That said, this number really looks good. Heading into the holiday season, looks like consumers will continue to spend -- Erica?

HILL: I was just thinking, yes, my e-mail is full of Black Friday deals, so get ready.

(LAUGHTER)

Cristina, thank you. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

ALESCI: Thank you.

Thanks to all of you for joining us this hour. I'm Erica Hill, in today for Kate Bolduan.

[12:00:01]

Stay tuned. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.