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32 States Under Watch or Weather Advisory from Powerful Storms; Impeachment Questions Loom Over Members of Congress; Trump Signs Hong Kong Human Rights Act, Protesters Celebrate. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 28, 2019 - 12:30   ET



CHAD MYERS, CNN WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: -- raining hard in the ocean side so the entire area down here in Los Angeles is just under a deluge. Orange County year under a flashflood warning for the next couple of hours. And by the time you get above about 2,000 feet, it is all snow.

So where does this go? Right in the way of the northeast for Sunday when you're trying to get back home. Not too bad today. Here is the snow all the way through most of Salt Lake City and most of Nevada, Reno, the big ski areas there around the Sierra are going to pick up great snow if you're already there. You probably can't get there because many of the roads are closed. Grapevine is closed.

Here comes the rain for the eastern part of the United States and the snow in the Dakotas. Now we're moving you ahead to Sunday, and here's the problem. If you want to get rid of your guests, you should do it on Saturday because by Sunday, they're going to be stuck here until Monday. So don't let that happen.

Say, hey, you know what, I heard the weather, you have to go today. Don't stick around until Sunday or else you're going to be here until Monday. And we all don't want that.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Chad. Thanks so much for that report and that advice. And Happy Thanksgiving to you, man.

MYERS: To you, too.

HENDERSON: And try as they might, the high winds couldn't stop the iconic balloons from flying high in this morning's Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. I'm so happy about this. You've got all of them there. Astronaut Snoopy, he was cleared for takeoff. Snoopy is one of at least three new balloons this year including SpongeBob there. Everybody loves SpongeBob. And he's got his pet snail Gary. Everybody knows Gary. And that -- I guess he's on SpongeBob's back there and it's SpongeBob's 20th birthday. And then more familiar faces here.

We got Pikachu, you got Blue. Winter weather forecast in concern over high winds had threatened to ground all of those awesome giant balloons. But they flew high in the sky today for all those folks who come to see the parade.

And we'll be right back.



HENDERSON: Members of Congress are back in their districts this Thanksgiving. And the drama of the Capitol Hill impeachment hearings is following them home. It's becoming a town hall topic for some House Democrats as impeachment-related ads show up targeting vulnerable members in swing districts.

On the Senate side, Republicans up for re-election are strategizing with how to answer the impeachment question.

And we've got CNN's Phil Mattingly who joins us now. Phil, I think there are, what, about 23 Republicans who are up. About 12 Democrats who are up. Who are the Republican senators we should actually be paying attention to as we think about these impeachment hears?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure Nia, like any tough vote that's coming in the United States Senate, you want to look at the frontline folks first. So there's kind of an obvious short list to pay attention to. People like Senator Susan Collins, Senator Joni Ernst in Iowa, Senator Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Senator Cory Gardner in Colorado. But I'm not looking at them because I think that necessarily they're going to vote to remove the president of the United States in impeachment. Why I'm looking at them is for another reason. I think we haven't fully gotten into what the media cycle related to what a Senate trial actually entails but I'm just going to kind of give people a hint here and say, we don't know a lot of information. And that's because there aren't a lot of rigid rules as to how this is going to take place.

And this is why these senators may matter more than just how they vote in the end. There is going to be a need for a coalition, likely a bipartisan coalition of senators to come together, meet, and figure out a structure that actually gives legitimacy to the process and allows the president and Democrats and everybody else in a very polarized, very split country on this issue to feel like maybe unlike some Republicans feel about the House. This was a trial that kind of holds up the institution of the United States Senate as supposed to be held up. And at the end of it people feel like everybody got a fair shake.

Now that's a long way off and it's also a bit of a tough sell given how split everybody is at this point in time. But pay attention to people like Susan Collins, to people like Cory Gardner and see if they start to cross party lines. Again, not to vote out the president but to try and figure out a way to have a Senate trial that's structured in a manner that both sides feel like is fair.

The two people you need to pay attention to, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, the two leaders. They'll be the ones meeting to actually lay out the top line structure of this. But the details of who the witnesses are, how votes take place, how long the trial is. That's going to take some rank and file members in the middle to come together. That's why I think these senators are most important right now.

We'll see how they vote. That's all going to play out in the weeks ahead. But right now, how the Senate trial actually works is perhaps even more important than that at least for the moment, Nia.

HENDERSON: And we know the president obviously eyeing some of these senators as well. Phil, thanks so much for that report. And Happy Thanksgiving to you.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, Nia.

HENDERSON: Thanks for being here, man.

Melanie, I'm going to go right to you on this and I'm going to put on the screen here Abigail Spanberger who's sort of one of those frontline Dems. And here is her strategy in terms of impeachment going home and talking to her folks in the district.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I figured when I went out to go hang out with the Democrats the week after last week, the topic would be the president. But I'm looking at your schedule, it doesn't seem to be the topic. Why is that?

REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): Obviously it's health care because that's -- I mean, that's the top issue for people within my district.




HENDERSON: And if you think about the way in which they ran and won in 2018, it was on these bread and butter issues like health care, like student loan debt, like drug prices. So that's apparently what her strategy is going forward as well.

ZANONA: Right. Republicans are actually trying to turn the table on Democrats. And in 2020, they're saying that they're obsessed with impeachment and that they're doing this at the expense of things like prescription drug prices and a trade deal with the president. But we are seeing a divergent split between how Democrats are dealing with this.

You are seeing some like Spanberger who is trying to distance herself and build her own brand. But you're seeing some people like Tom Malinowski of New Jersey who's actually just leaning into it and embracing it because they're thinking is, Democrats are going to be saddled with impeachment no matter what. So they might as well, you know, run toward it instead of run away from it. And I think the other thing to look out for is these conversations that Democrats are having with their constituents this week could ultimately shape what articles of impeachment look like. Because Democrats are still debating whether to keep it narrow, whether to pull in Mueller. And Pelosi has been looking out for her frontline members throughout this entire process. So if they come back and say we're only comfortable with x, y, z, I suspect the leadership will probably follow.

HENDERSON: And here was Mikie Sherrill in New Jersey, she is another frontline Democrat as you talked about and somebody certainly Nancy Pelosi is paying attention to. Here's what happened in one of her town halls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It appears that for the last couple of years all that has been going on is investigations. And it's keeping us away from the work in our country.

REP. MIKIE SHERRILL (D-NJ): I did not run for office to impeach the president. I ran on taxes and health care and infrastructure. The president crossed a line for me when it seemed as if he had withheld critical military funding for our security partner because he wanted them to investigate an opponent of his in an election.


HENDERSON: And Catherine, that was Mikie Sherrill. I said Mikie before so I want to put that on the record, a correction there. And you see her there essentially saying this was a matter of national security. You hear a lot of Democrats saying essentially they didn't have a choice in terms of this impeachment process.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes. You definitely have these Democrats especially those in your more moderate districts, freshmen who, you know, flipped from districts that were Republican in 2018, who have been cautious about going towards impeachment. And a lot of them, yes, did finally say -- and a lot of them said we are OK with an impeachment inquiry. You have to answer these questions.

But, these are people who now the -- you know, the Trump campaign are watching these districts very, very closely because they see an opportunity there to cast these members as Melanie was saying, you're not in touch with what people want. Not working on issues like health care, education, and jobs but instead sort of obsessed with endless investigations. And that's a real issue for these folks. They do want to show that they are working on other issues.

HENDERSON: And this -- you talk about this language sort of the Republican talking points. Democrats too focused on impeachment. Exact language in this ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What have the Democrats done? They're wasting millions on a partisan witch hunt to reverse the 2016 election. They know they can't compete, so they try to impeach. Tell Congressman Ben McAdams to stop impeachment now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Instead of working to secure our border, fix health care, and pass a trade deal with our neighbors that create real jobs, she supported the impeachment investigation.



JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think to some degree, the Democrats still (INAUDIBLE). You have the Mueller report comes out that shows all of these different, you know, obstructive episodes, damaging report. Mueller testifies and the next day the president has this call with the president of Ukraine where he makes these demands and calls for investigations. In some ways, you know, criticizing this president publicly has not stopped what they see as his behavior. Would censoring stop him? What would stop him?

So at one point or another, I think the Democrats believe the have to talk to him at least, what else we are left to do. If he continues to do these things, what are we left to do?

HENDERSON: And this is the language from Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. Quickly here I want to get to some voters' voices because you don't often hear from them. We got polling but here's what a couple of voters had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's all going to boil down to, if you think what he did -- how bad was it? It's not in question what happened so it doesn't really matter how many times or how many witnesses. They come and say the same thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your opportunity to get the president out is in 11 months the right way versus, you know, spending the next two years chewing, you know, this old bone. They had their chance with the Mueller investigation.


HENDERSON: And Toluse, Michigan voters are a key state for this president and a Democrat who challenge him.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think that's why you don't -- you see Democrats don't want to spend months and months on this. They want to have this vote, have this trial, have it out of the way so that voters who say we have an election coming up will be able to have their say. I think that's why Democrats are going to try to get this wrapped up quickly.


HENDERSON: You know, they'll be in their districts for a couple more days. We'll see what happens. And as we go to break, a congressional flashback. A year ago today, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi was nominated by her caucus to return as speaker of the House. And she expressed optimism about her working relationship with the president.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It was so inspiring to hear my colleagues place my name in nomination, once again for speaker of the House. We are a coequal branch of government. My power there springs from the vote of the members of the House of Representatives. I think the president will be respectful of that.



HENDERSON: Topping our political radar, claims that the FBI spied on the Trump campaign being knocked down today. According to the New York Times the Justice Department's Inspector General found no evidence that the FBI tried to put undercover agents inside the campaign. However, sources familiar with the draft of the yet to be released IG report also tell the times that the IG concluded the FBI was careless and unprofessional in pursuing a wiretap on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

And North Korea is at it again, launching two short-range projectiles earlier today. A South Korean military official says they were fired toward the east sea from a super large caliber multiple rocket launcher. The North has a history of conducting missile tests on U.S. holidays.

And protesters in Hong Kong are waving American flags and cheering President Trump after he signed a bill passed almost unanimously by Congress backing the pro-democracy movement. But China is accusing the U.S. of publicly supporting violent criminals and has summoned the U.S. Ambassador to Beijing to protest the move.

We've got CNN's Will Ripley who was in Hong Kong for us. Will, this is good news for the Hong Kong protesters. You see them cheering this move, but it also complicates a U.S.-China trade policy.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it absolutely does. And I think President Trump's reluctance to sign this bill into law, the fact that he waited a week and then immediately after signing it issued that statement, you know, reinforcing his respect for the Chinese President Xi Jinping. Clearly, he's concerned that these two leaders have a personal relationship. But can that relationship survive an issue as sensitive as this one is for China?

China takes nothing more seriously than a place like Hong Kong, a territory with people talking about independence. That is absolute blasphemy for leaders in Beijing. Same thing with Taiwan. I mean, they've always insisted they can take back Taiwan at any time, that it's a renegade province. And when the U.S. does anything that China perceives as friendly towards Taiwan, there are consequences. What we don't know is what the consequences will be because of this bill which authorizes sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials believed to be involved in human rights abuses. But the bigger issue for Hong Kong would be this annual review of the special status that Hong Kong enjoys that allows this city to be very prosperous. And it would be devastating economically if that was taken away.

But also, what this really showed is the division inside this city. The split screen moment of thousands of citizens celebrating the United States signing this bill into law while at the same time their government was strongly condemning the action and using words like bullying and evil. This is the division in Hong Kong that continues to be a problem, that continues to sow seeds of unrest. And I'm not sure that this bill necessarily solves that. As you said, it could further complicate the situation.

HENDERSON: Thanks so much for that report, Will. And Happy Thanksgiving to you.

All right, we'll bring it inside the room here. Catherine, a, where are U.S. trade talks with this and, b, the president clearly has been all over the map on this. I think at one point he said he supported the Hong Kong protesters in China.

LUCEY: Yes. So trade talks, both sides. You know, sometime back indicated they were moving towards a phase one deal on U.S.-China trade that still wouldn't really deal with some of the bigger concerns but would just start you on this path. But those talks appear to have slowed. I mean, we have not seen a lot of progress recently. The president last week when he was touring an Apple facility, he was asked about this and sort of said, you know, he wanted to see more from China.

So, those are not -- do not appear to be coming to a head immediately. Where things stand now after the signing, it does not appear it shuts the talks down. You know, the president made very sort of conciliatory statements about Xi and the Chinese have sort of taken some hope from that. They are also asking that he not, you know, fully implement this. So we have to see how this continues to pan out.

HENDERSON: And he suggested that maybe he wouldn't fully implement it as well. So we'll keep an eye on that.

Up next, how the 2020 candidates are spending their Thanksgiving.



HENDERSON: Even though it's a holiday, some 2020 candidates just can't quit the campaign trail cold turkey. Senators and Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar are both in Iowa today. Harris went to the turkey trot in Des Moines handing out cookies to runners.





HENDERSON: And Klobuchar is also in Des Moines working on a service project this hour. But she took a moment to post this throwback Thursday photo of herself as a kid at the Thanksgiving table tweeting, "As you can see, I'm always thankful for a good turkey and a bang trim."

And thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there. And Ana --