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THE SITUATION ROOM

Two Dead in London Bridge Terror Attack; White House Faces New Deadline on Impeachment; Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) is Interviewed about Terror Attacks; Ukrainian Officials Trying to Improve Standing with Trump Amid Impeachment Probe Fallout as White House Faces New Deadlines on Impeachment; Interview with Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Powerful Storm Could Disrupt Travel for Millions. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 29, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:13]

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: This is a SITUATION ROOM special report. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta.

We're tracking multiple breaking stories this hour. Terror overseas in London. Two people are dead after a stabbing spree by a suspected terrorist. And in the Netherlands, at least three people have been wounded in a stabbing in The Hague.

Here in the United States, we're on the verge of a historic week as the impeachment inquiry moves into a new phase. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has just sent a letter to the president and set a new deadline for the White House to decide whether or not to participate in the proceeding.

Let's begin with today's deadly terror attacks. CNN's Nina dos Santos is tracking the story from London. Nina, what are you hearing at this hour?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Thanks very much, Jim. Well, things are looking calm outside of the London Bridge station but it was a completely different picture about seven hours ago. When, of course, the specter of another deadly terror attack made its presence felt on the capital streets.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Terror once again in the heart of London. Passengers on this bus became witness to a shocking scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via telephone): It looked like members of the public were fighting with a man. It looked like he was trying to be pinned down on the pavement. It looked like a shine of light come across from the man on the floor and we realized quickly it was a knife and then the police ran over with some guns and it ended with the man being shot.

DOS SANTOS: Police say they were called to the area just before 2:00 p.m. following reports of a stabbing. After being apprehended by ordinary Londoners, a suspect wearing a hoax explosive device was shot dead by officers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I also want to thank the members of the public who have helped by showing extraordinary courage and stepping in to tackle this attacker.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): It wasn't far from London Bridge, one of the busiest commuter stations in the capitol city that things began to unfold. About a block in that direction behind the security cordon, witnesses say they heard what they later realized was a quick blast of gunfire. They were told to evacuate the area urgently, some panicked and they began to flee down streets like these.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): And then chaos as people tried to make sense of the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened?

DOS SANTOS: One woman found the situation all too familiar.

DOS SANTOS (on camera): This is the second time you've had a lucky escape from an incident like this?

OLIVIA BIZOT, WITNESS: Yes. I was also in the Boston marathon attacks in 2013. And also, based on my experience while I was at the marathon, sort of 20 minutes or something, I can't remember how long. But just before it actually happened and some very similar thing of having a flood of people just running and not knowing what was happening and just fear, like huge amount of fear on their faces. And you could feel it as well in the energy of just everyone stressing out.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): London Bridge was the target of another attack two years ago. Eight people were killed and 48 were injured. This attack comes just weeks after the terror threat for this part of the U.K. was reduced to substantial and ahead of a crucial general election for the entire country. As for the motivation of the suspect, police say they are keeping an open mind.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS: Well, Jim, CNN law enforcement sources have been telling us that they believe that they have identified the London suspect here in this case. You can bet that authorities will be working throughout the course of the night furtively to try and understand exactly what the motivation was as I said there and also how exactly they came to be in London Bridge with the intent to maim and eventually kill people.

Two people dead as you said this hour. Three more remain in hospital. And members of the government and security services, as well are the police are currently meeting in Downing Street for an emergency gathering. Back to you.

ACOSTA: All right. Nina dos Santos, if you have any more information on the suspect or on the motive, please let us know. And for more on the possible motive behind today's attack let's go to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in London. Nick, still some unanswered questions about the suspect but it sounds like authorities are starting to put together the pieces.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean if you look at the kind of device it seems to have been strapped to this individual that harks back to 2017 attacks which were ultimately linked to jihadists. But at the same time, police are saying a little bit more detail about how this attack began across the river. You could just about make out the sort of portcullis there of the front of what is called Fishmonger's Hall. That's where they believe the attack originated before 2:00.

[17:05:01]

And then just up on the bridge you could see a tent and that is we think where police are continuing their forensic investigations, where that graphic scene of the assailant being shot was actually occurred.

Now bear in mind that we simply know very little about the motivation behind this attacker. This point, as I say, modus operandi behavior mimic that of 2017 which suggests maybe some links to radical ideology. But at this point, obviously, police will be desperately trying to confirm his identity, see whether or not there is any residential properties they could look at, any associations of his to try and nail down precisely how he came to be there.

I should point out though, you know, we possibly look back, Jim, to the sort of al Qaeda era and the idea of command and control that somebody essentially giving the orders, something like this. Things have changed enormously and it is entirely possible one lone individual armed simply here with a kitchen knife and some wiring made to look like a hoax explosive device could have done this entirely by himself.

And also, too, U.K. Security Services have always pointed for some time about the possible impacts of mental health issues with individuals like this too, regardless of whatever choice of ideology they may have in the background is justification for what happened, Jim.

ACOSTA: And Nick, hours after the attack in London, multiple people were stabbed during a separate incident in the Netherlands. It sounds as though perhaps you know it would stand to reason that something like that might not be connected or be connected. What are you hearing about that?

WALSH: Yes. I mean just for clarity, the incident in The Hague entirely unconnected as far as we know at this point. Dutch police saying it is not terror related. They are looking for a suspect still, and a horrifying scene, frankly, no less terrifying because of the absence of an ideology so being behind it at this point. And big market street in The Hague, central city to the Netherlands where a lot of shoppers were out. It appears that the stabbing occurred, three people injured. Most of them thought, by police at this point, to have been minor. So an utterly terrifying scene here, a suspect still on the run but at this point, Dutch police not thinking this is a terror attack. Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. That is very important to know. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Also breaking tonight, we're looking ahead to a very busy week in the impeachment inquiry. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has just sent a letter to the president giving him a new deadline to decide whether or not the White House wants to participate in the proceedings.

Our Phil Mattingly has more on that. Phil, it sounds like there might be a little bit of wiggle room here for the White House.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To some degree. Look, there are now essentially two deadlines. We know there is a hearing next week and this is the next phase of the Democratic impeachment inquiry, the House Judiciary Committee taking up what the House Intelligence Committee has done up to this point. That first hearing really kind of a nuts and bolts hearing, how does impeachment work, what's the historical precedent, constitutional scholars coming up to testify and the White House still has a deadline as of Sunday night as to whether or not they want to participate.

What changed today or what is new today, Chairman Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee, telling the White House if they want to participate at all at any point in the impeachment proceedings they need to reply yes by next Sunday - sorry - by December 6th at 5:00 p.m.

The reason why that matters is this. The way the House impeachment rules were drafted, if the White House wants to participate and that includes asking questions of witnesses, submitting proposal for their own witnesses, giving a concluding statement, they need to tell the Democrats at this point in time.

The challenge and I know you're reporting this on a regular basis in your day job, is does the White House think that this will legitimize an inquiry that they have said is a sham up to this point.

So, we still don't have an answer to that. Still a huge outstanding question of whether or not the White House is actually going to participate. But now they have a deadline. Not just for that first Wednesday hearing but for the entire impeachment proceedings the Judiciary Committee. We expect several hearings to go forward on this. One big wrinkle to keep an eye off for, if the White House declines to participate or if the White House declines to make witnesses available, Jerry Nadler has the power inside that resolution to say, look, all those privileges we say we're going to give you, they are all gone. So there is a lot of stick and carrot here. We just don't know what the White House is going to do.

ACOSTA: All right. Phil, get plenty of rest this weekend. Next week is going to be very busy. Thank you very much. Let's get more on the impending deadline phase in the White House. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us. Jeremy, you're in Florida where the president is spending his Thanksgiving holiday. What are you learning?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, look, there is no official word from the White House yet on whether they will send an attorney to participate in these impeachment hearings. But an administration official is telling us tonight that the White House is currently reviewing that letter and options are under consideration.

Remember, Jim, the president has repeatedly attacked this impeachment inquiry as illegitimate, calling it a hoax and a scam. But at the same time, one of the top criticisms from this White House has been that they have not been allowed to participate so far in this impeachment inquiry. And so that kind of the main question that the White House is facing as they consider this request.

Either way, though, Jim, the president will not be in attendance on Wednesday when the House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing to decide whether or not to impeach President Trump. The president will be traveling abroad. He is in London for a NATO summit.

ACOSTA: And the White House wants to make note of that. That's he's going to be in London during all of this.

[17:10:00]

And Jeremy, amid this impeachment scandal, Ukrainian officials are still looking for ways to improve relations with President Trump. What is CNN learning tonight? What can you tell us?

DIAMOND: That is right, Jim. Two sources are telling CNN tonight that Ukrainian officials are still exploring ways to improve their relationship with President Trump including potentially opening new investigations that would satisfy the president's political motives as it relates to Ukraine. And this really underscores the extent to which despite the fact that the aide - the security aide has been released to Ukraine, after months of pressure from the White House, that pressure very much still exists.

And the president has made clear even after releasing that July 25th call transcript that he still did want Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. And in fact, last week, Jim, David Holmes, one of the U.S. embassy officials in the embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, he testified that the Ukrainians still do feel quite a bit of pressure.

And all of this especially comes down to a key meeting that's happening on December 9th and that is between the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Russian President Vladimir Putin. They are set to meet next month to discuss the conflict in eastern Ukraine. And clearly, President Zelensky needs to show Putin that he has the United States at his back. Jim?

ACOSTA: A lot of pressure being applied by the Russians as well. Jeremy Diamond in Florida, thanks very much. We appreciate it. Let's get reaction to the day's breaking news from a key Democrat Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland. And Senator, thanks for joining us. We appreciate you dropping in. We have a lot to discuss. But first, let's get your reaction to the stabbing attack in London. How great of a risk do you think do we have to having an attack here in the U.S.? Does that concern you tonight?

SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Well, Jim, first it is good to be with you. I think we always have to be on our guard. Obviously this is a tragic circumstance. It looks like it is terrorists. That is it is motivated by extreme ideology. It is tragic in the loss of life. One of the - I think encouraging sights was to see how citizens in London came together to succumb the attacker, to actually stop him from hurting more people, running into danger rather than away from danger. So I think we all need to be on our guard, obviously. We are concerned that you could see lone wolf type of terrorist activities now in Europe and here the United States.

ACOSTA: And, Senator, turning to impeachment. You just heard that reporting there from Jeremy Diamond, others here at CNN that Ukraine may still announce new investigations that could benefit the president. If Ukraine takes that step, what would you make of all of that? How would you want Congress to respond?

CARDIN: Well, it is clear that the president is maintaining pressure on Ukraine to do an investigation to help the president politically. This is outrageous. This is the use of the power of the president to further his political agenda compromising our national security. Ukraine is a key partner.

Now with the pressure coming from Russia it is very clear that with the president he is compromising our own national security so I would hope that we could get beyond this, that we could recognize that we need to provide the support for Ukraine because they're a key ally in our fight in that region of the world and stop intimidating the president -- the president of Ukraine by telling him that unless he does investigations he's not going to get the help of the United States.

ACOSTA: And we were just talking a few moments ago about how the House Judiciary Committee is going to get its proceedings going over in the House. What do you expect this impeachment process to look like in the Senate with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell setting the rules? You have some of the Republican Party saying they would like to bring in the whistle-blower or Hunter Biden in to testify. What do you make of how this may shape up in the Senate?

CARDIN: Well, Jim, we do have rules. There are standing rules in the Senate that deal with impeachment procedures but I would hope that the majority leader will work with Senator Schumer to develop a process in the Senate if the House returns articles of impeachment that would be fair to all parties. That is how it has been done in the past and it should be a bipartisan process in the United States Senate. Let's hope that is what happens because historically during impeachment procedures that is exactly how the Senate has operated, obviously with the chief justice of the United States as the presiding officer. ACOSTA: And, Senator, we wanted to get your take on this. Some of the president's allies seem to be entertaining this conspiracy theory put forward by the president that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election. Let's watch this from the Secretary of State and your colleague, Republican Senator John Kennedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that the U.S. and Ukraine should investigate the theory that it was Ukraine and not Russia that hacked the DNC emails in 2016?

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Any time there is information that indicates that any country has messed with American elections, we not only have a right, but a duty to make sure we chase that down.

[17:15:00]

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): The only evidence I have and I think it is overwhelming is that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Why do you think the president keeps saying something that he also knows is not true?

KENNEDY: Well here is why. There is a lot of evidence proven and unproven, everybody has got an opinion that Ukraine did try to interfere along with Russia and probably others in the 2016 election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Senator, what is the impact of those comments when the president's fellow Republicans are parodying this conspiracy theory.

CARDIN: Jim, it is beyond dispute that Russia was the culprit in our 2016 elections. The intelligence communities have come to that conclusion very unified. This is beyond any further doubt. So any time that we give any credibility that Russia was not responsible for the interference in 2016, I think we play into Russia's handbook here. And it is just wrong. And I would hope responsible public officials would understand that and understand how important it is for us to support our intelligence communities.

ACOSTA: OK, Senator Ben Cardin, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Thanks for coming in.

CARDIN: Good to be with you, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Coming up, big decisions ahead for the White House as the House of Representatives pushes forward with impeachment, will the president have a say in the hearings?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:21:19]

ACOSTA: We're tracking breaking news. A source tells CNN that British police have identified the suspect in today's deadly terror attack near the London Bridge. And let's get some expert analysis on this. Let's start with Nic Robertson. Nic, what stands out to you about how this unfolded?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I was really struck by the fact that it appears to be members of the public that took on this knife-wielding attacker that managed to wrestle the knife from him, pinned him down to the moment that the police got there within five minutes. Again, that was fast, the response, police were there. They literally pull off the, you know, member of public that is holding the attacker down, pull him off and as they pull him back, the person is -- the attacker is then clear of any people around him and boom boom, the police shoot him because they believe he had -- is wearing a suicide vest which turned out to be a fake suicide vest. But I think the speed and we've heard some of the officials in London praise the courage. But as a Londoner, I think Londoners are now aware that this sort of thing could happen. Some people will run and that is absolutely normal and right that people should run away but it is clear there are people in London who will see this and respond to it and take it on.

ACOSTA: Yes, very brave individuals there who helped this from getting worse I think.

Peter Bergen, the suspect, as Nic was saying, was wearing a hoax bomb. It is in the same location roughly as similar attack in 2017. What is the likelihood here that this was ISIS-inspired in some ways and ISIS- want to be type of person?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, school shooters in this country, down from other school shooters and terrorists in general, from other terrorists and this is enormous exact replica of what two years ago, fake suicide vest, the stabbing, the essentially death by police. The British are saying that it is terrorism but they're also saying we don't know the motivation. Now that is a contradiction because by definition, terrorism has a motivation that is political in nature. So I think they do know what the motivation is. They're not sort of saying it right now. Maybe they want more time to look at his social media but it seems to be you know an ISIS- inspired attack. It would be very surprising if it was something else.

ACOSTA: And, Evan, what are you as authority saying we saw some chatter earlier today that New York was on guard as a precautionary measure. What are they saying at this moment?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, look, whenever these incidents happen, we saw what happened in London and then a short time later, there was a reported incident in The Hague in the Netherlands. We don't know whether there is any inspiration that follows but we do know as Peter just pointed out that some of the people take inspiration from others and they get triggered when they see someone do something.

And so that is what the concern is over here. And anywhere, right, especially because of the time of the year that we're in. You could have people who are sitting around, thinking about doing something and they see something like this happen. And so they decide now is the time for them to do it. So, that is what happens here in the United States. The FBI, the authorities end up essentially going back over the list of people they are concerned about and they try to make sure that they kind of know where these people are and if they are thinking of doing anything, they have a good handle of what to do about it.

ACOSTA: And, Sam Vinograd, one of the things that was mentioned after the killing of Baghdadi, the ISIS leader, was that this could potentially provoke some sort of retaliation. I suppose at this point the intelligence community has to be looking at that as a possibility?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, Jim. But just to your question to Evan, the U.K. is what we call a member of the five eyes which means we have incredibly close intelligence sharing with the U.K. So it is somewhat standard operating procedure after these high-profile incidents for the U.S. law enforcement, intelligence community to be working with U.K. authorities. Baghdadi's death was certainly viewed as potential inspirational event after these high-profile kill or capture operations. The likelihood for a retaliatory attacks certainly goes up, Jim.

[17:25:00]

But there is another factor here, and that is with the territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria being reclaimed by coalition forces. We are seeing foreign fighters returning to their host countries or returning to Europe which is another contributing factor as well. And finally, with the territorial caliphate being taken from ISIS, ISIS is being forced to really resort to more outreach in the digital realm as well so I would imagine that investigators are looking for heightened activity in that space as well.

ACOSTA: And nick, as Sam was saying, you know the return of these foreign fighters, the potential return of these foreign fighters, that is a huge concern in Europe right now and now we're heading into the holiday season which has been a magnet for these kinds of attacks in the past.

ROBERTSON: Absolutely. The holiday season is a period where we know ISIS and groups like them like to threaten. They put out a love of propaganda. They don't act on it very often but certainly this is a period where authorities will be worried because there are more people out on the streets. There are all those Christmas shoppers. So that is a concern.

But actually what we're hearing in terms of numbers, you know this year, perhaps last year a little bit, really they've been somewhat of a tail off. You know when it was clear that the caliphate was going down, those that wanted to get out were getting out of the hundreds that had gone, perhaps about a third had come back to the U.K., maybe more than a third. And percentages like that perhaps a little lower across Europe but the assessment was the big numbers had stopped racing back to their sort of country of origin if you will. And for that reason, or that part of the picture, that had allowed the British authorities in the past few weeks to bring down their threat level assessment down a level, which is quite significant.

ACOSTA: OK, a lot to keep our eyes on. Thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate that.

And coming up, a new impeachment deadline for President Trump, will the White House decide to participate in the upcoming hearings or sit them out?

This is a SITUATION ROOM special report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:31:48]

ACOSTA: Some breaking news on the impeachment front. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler just set a new deadline for the President and the White House until next Friday to decide if it wants to participate in the impeachment proceedings. We have a lot to discuss and our experts are here with more analysis.

And, Phil Mattingly, I was just speaking with an administration official this afternoon. They're going to make some hay out of the fact that the President is going to be overseas in London dealing with this NATO summit as this impeachment hearing gets underway over in the House.

This official is saying it's kind of hard to be there -- talking about the proposal of the President be at the hearing. It's kind of hard for the President to do that when the -- when Nadler scheduled his hearing for when the President is in London. So they're going to -- they're going to run with this one, I think, actually.

MATTINGLY: Yes, I don't think there's any question about that. That will be a point they make repeatedly. Now, granted the Committee has also invited the President's counsel to come and participate.

ACOSTA: No decision made there yet.

MATTINGLY: Well, yes, no -- and you've reported there's no decision made. What I think is most interesting about this is they have a very -- unlike the House Intelligence Committee process, unlike the investigation up to this point, the White House has a very real opportunity to participate.

They can make their arguments. They can ask for witnesses. They can make concluding presentations if they want to. And they may decide not to do it.

Now, there is also the dynamic of if you don't think this is legitimate, and they've made that claim repeatedly, then why participate in the first place? And also keep in mind, if the House votes to impeach like it looks like they will, there will be a Senate trial to make those defenses as well.

But I think the -- it's a very interesting element, and I would think it would be a very complicated dynamic inside the White House Counsel's Office of do we really want to let this go and not have our voice in this process at all, just leave it to House Republicans to defend us? But I think it's a -- as you've been reporting, there's a very real possibility the answer to that is yes in the House.

ACOSTA: And that will be something to watch. And, Sam Vinograd, I mean, I think we need to talk about this new CNN reporting because I find it very striking that Ukraine is now trying to improve relations with the United States to the -- to the extent that they might consider opening up some new investigations that could be seen as helping President Trump.

I guess, first of all, would that even be seen as credible at this point knowing what we know at this point? But I suppose it does go to the notion that they are still feeling pressure in Ukraine.

VINOGRAD: Well, how could they not be? The -- through the course of the impeachment inquiry, we have heard various witnesses say that President Trump considers Ukraine to be corrupt and that he was really focused on one thing vis-a-vis Ukraine, which is investigating the Bidens.

But, Jim, improving relations between the United States and Ukraine is one thing. The Ukrainians are, essentially, based on our reporting, focused on doing that. Improving relations through the President's friend -- friends and family is an entirely other thing.

If the Ukrainians have any credible evidence of any kind of wrongdoing, they should be working that through our embassy. They should be working that through people like David Holmes. And so, it is the channels in which they choose to act that is most relevant.

And it's worth noting as well that they're considering all the pressure from the United States while they're preparing to go to a summit with Vladimir Putin.

This should be the time that the United States is doing everything to boost up the Ukrainians ahead of these peace negotiations or discussions with the Russians and sending a signal of solidarity rather than trying to -- rather than trying to show that there's some kind of pressure campaign going on.

ACOSTA: And, Lulu Garcia-Navarro, isn't this exactly what American diplomats have been talking about during these hearings, that they're concerned about foreign entities like the Ukrainians, like any country, getting involved in American politics?

[17:35:08]

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO HOST: I mean, I think you've been hearing that over and over and over again. It's been a message that's been consistent, that they really are worried that what is happening here domestically is going to impact foreign policy and how other countries react. And we have seen the evidence that that is true.

You know, Ukraine is extremely vulnerable. We've heard that. They have expressed that when you speak to Ukrainians. And Ukrainians officials, they tell you that it is striking to them that, at this particular moment, when the United States has always been an ally and they're going into these negotiations with Russia, that the United States is not there in the way that they used to be there and that they cannot rely on them as a -- you know, as a partner. And so, I think going into this is going to be very, very tricky and very, very difficult.

ACOSTA: And, Rebecca, we saw some dramatic testimony from some of these witnesses during the House Intelligence Committee's turn at all of this. How do you think these hearings are going to be different over in the Judiciary Committee? Because I can see some Americans out there saying, wait a minute, are we going to watch this all over again?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Right.

ACOSTA: What can you tell us?

BUCK: Well, the House Intelligence Committee had a different goal than what the Judiciary Committee is going to have. They were doing the fact-finding portion of this whole exercise. The Judiciary Committee is going to explain to the American people the constitutional grounds for impeachment. They're going to put together all of these pieces and try to tell a cohesive story about impeachment and why they are taking these steps.

So this is going to be a really crucial moment for Democrats because there are some people who feel that they've sort of lost the thread here, that they have let Republicans gain some ground in terms of their public attacks on the impeachment process. And so, this is the Democrats' chance to take back the narrative and to tell the story that they want the American people to remember when it comes to impeachment.

MATTINGLY: And I think, a good point on that, look, Adam Schiff's report is going to come out right before these hearings, and this is going to be the full narrative of what they think they saw. And I think that will try and help kind of bring everything back to the table maybe if people weren't paying attention during Thanksgiving or are lost because of the length of the hearings.

The importance of the Judiciary Committee is they will be drafting the Articles of Impeachment. And there is a very real debate going on inside the Democratic caucus of, do you want this to just be about Ukraine? Do you want this to broaden out and be of obstruction related to the Mueller report?

All of these different elements that are going to take place are and play out, extremely important not just on what the President -- the vote to impeach the President is actually about but also the dynamics, politically, inside of the Democratic caucus right now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And I think one of the things that's really interesting is that this is, of course, important because it plays out in the court of public opinion, and we haven't seen public opinion move very much. We've seen it go up to about 50 percent.

And so, as we're looking at how the Democrats are trying to maneuver this, is there a point where they just say, actually, we're at a stalemate and public opinion isn't going to tell us very much, and, well, we can't let that decide what it is we're going to do? And I'm seeing messaging from them already about that.

ACOSTA: Well, we've seen lots of surprises so far, so who knows? There could be new surprises next week. We'll have to wait and see. Thank you, all of you, for that.

Coming up, my interview with Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker. We'll talk about impeachment, the 2020 race, and more right after a quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:42:31]

ACOSTA: And we are tracking breaking stories tonight -- multiple breaking stories, including a terror attack in London that left two people dead. And joining us now is the Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker.

Senator Booker, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it. Let's get right to the top story tonight, and that is the stabbing attack in London. How high is the risk here in the U.S. and should Americans be concerned about this heading into the holiday season?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, my prayers are with those who lost lives on that bridge. And the heroism of bystanders and the heroism of the first responders was evident, and we've seen that here in America as well.

Look, we always have to be on guard. We know the new era that we're living in. But I have a lot of confidence in our counter-terrorism forces here in the United States as well as the vigilance of people who see things and say things that's helped stop attacks in our country.

We should enjoy our holidays and not let the terrorists win who want to inject our culture with fear. We will not, at all, yield to that in this country. We must respond with strength and confidence that we could beat back the terrorists and make sure we secure our country.

ACOSTA: And, Senator, let's talk about this impeachment inquiry. It looks like a Senate impeachment trial could unfold in the middle of the Democratic primaries. With so many senators in the 2020 field such as yourself and the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell setting the rules for a Senate trial, are you worried that this process could damage chances for the Democratic senators who are in this race like yourself?

BOOKER: You know what, there are six of us, and we are all prepared to do our duty. We swore an oath. This is an unprecedented or at least seen only in a few times in our history where we will have a trial. And so, look, I take this -- it is a moment of patriotism, not politics, and I think that all of us are going to be in our seats doing our job.

Now, what effect that will have on the campaign, I don't know. There is no script for this, but I know with the kind of effort that we're making on the ground in places like Iowa, not only --

ACOSTA: Yes, how do you run for the Iowa caucus, Senator, if you're conducting a trial in the Senate?

BOOKER: Well, this is where I'm grateful that my campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire have more endorsements from local leaders than any other campaign. So we've got local mayors and others to serve as surrogates. We're trying to do our best right now to raise money, not only to make the next debate stage but also hoping people go to corybooker.com to give us the resources to get up with ads on T.V. and -- and more.

We're going to make this work, but we're talking about removing a sitting president from office. This needs to be dealt with with a sobered commitment to do our duty. Donald Trump, I think, has betrayed his duty, but I know the senators that are running for president right now will do ours.

[17:45:14]

ACOSTA: And a super PAC supporting you, Senator, has just put out its first ad in Iowa targeting Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Let's watch a portion of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a Rhodes scholar, a successful mayor, and a uniter. No, not that guy. It's Cory Booker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Are you running against that guy, Senator?

BOOKER: God, you know, what's so funny is I didn't even know that was out. And this is the first time I'm seeing it, so you caught me a little off guard.

ACOSTA: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

BOOKER: Look, at the end of the day, I'm running for the -- for the soul of our country. I'm running because I believe that this nation should not be attacking each other. We're not tearing each other down. This is a time we should be building each other up.

And if anybody has followed my campaign, we've been the one that has, from the very start, trying to say to folks that we need to be a Democratic Party that can unify and come together.

ACOSTA: Yes.

BOOKER: So I celebrate the people that are in the race, and my campaign is not about tearing anybody down.

ACOSTA: But, Senator, doesn't that --

BOOKER: We need to build folks up.

ACOSTA: But doesn't that ad get to a point, and that is -- a lot of Democrats are saying this -- why is that Pete Buttigieg is resonating and people like Cory Booker, who is a known quantity, nationally, internationally, why is he not? Why are you back in the pack, and he is at the head of the pack? Is it because he's a fresh face and you're not? Why is that?

BOOKER: Look, I'll leave that to the pundits, but we know this. The way people are measuring back of the pack, front of the pack is with polling. And never -- in your lifetime or mine, never -- has there ever been someone that's gone at this point in November from leading in the polls to the White House from the Democratic Party.

So my campaign looks a lot more like Bill Clinton's did, Jimmy Carter's did, and even Barack Obama. The first two were polling at single digits at this point. Barack Obama, at this point, 21 points behind Hillary Clinton. What is making a difference for us, where we're seeing this post-debate surge is in fundraising, in endorsements in Iowa, raising in -- in fact, right now, we're number three in that favorability.

ACOSTA: Did that attack ad make you uncomfortable, like going after Pete Buttigieg like that?

BOOKER: Again, I only saw the clip you did. I don't know if it was done tongue and cheek or funny. I just have a philosophy which is I will do nothing to tear down the character of anybody in this race. We're trying to show our positive truth.

And the reality is, is I was the mayor of New Jersey's largest city during a global recession. We turned it around, created tens of thousands of jobs, took a school system that was one of the worst- performing urban districts to now one of the best in the country.

I'm the guy that went to Washington, even with Republicans across the aisle, I found common ground and got -- even as a freshman, brought big pieces of legislation. In fact, the only major bipartisan piece of legislation --

ACOSTA: But, Senator, if --

BOOKER: -- under this President was when I led.

ACOSTA: If you don't qualify for the December debate, how do you stay in this race?

BOOKER: Well, that's --

ACOSTA: Doesn't that mean you're out at this point?

BOOKER: Well, first of all, I'm not coming to that conclusion, but that's the jeopardy we're facing right now, is that even though we're seeing fundraising surges, rises in popularity, great team on the ground, and endorsements, we want to make that debate stage. We have two weeks to do it. And if folks want my voice in this, please go to corybooker.com and contribute. That's how you keep in this.

ACOSTA: And you used the word, "jeopardy." I just want to make sure, you -- your candidacy is in jeopardy right now. Is that what you're saying?

BOOKER: No, sir, I said that we're in jeopardy of not making the debate stage.

ACOSTA: OK.

BOOKER: And that's something that we think is very important and very valuable. And we've heard from people -- and this is one of the reasons why I think so many people are going to corybooker.com in this period and contributing. This is why we're seeing some momentum now.

It's because people realize that my voice in this race is needed, and that we are still in the mix in Iowa. Especially if you look at what's going on on the ground as everybody from the Des Moines register to other local media have said, that mine and Elizabeth Warren's are two of the best organizing teams on the ground.

ACOSTA: All right.

BOOKER: So we have what it takes to win there, but we just need some help right now to make this debate stage. This is something new -- this qualifying sort of hurdles are new, and we need help getting there. And so, I hope folks will go to corybooker.com to contribute and help us out.

ACOSTA: All right. OK, thank you, Senator, very much. We appreciate it. Cory Booker, happy holidays. Thank you, sir.

Coming up --

BOOKER: Thank you.

ACOSTA: -- more Thanksgiving travel hassles could be shaping up for the weekend. Stay tuned.

[17:49:17]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: A powerful storm that could have major impacts on the holiday travel rush is gathering strength. Let's bring in our meteorologist Ivan Cabrera. Ivan, what can you tell us?

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, I can tell you something you're not going to want to hear. This storm, Jim, is going to go all the way to the East Coast. And by the time we get into Monday, we're going to have a bona fide snowstorm.

First, it has been snowing bonkers here across the southwest. Snowiest Thanksgiving ever for places like Albuquerque. There'd been snowing in Arizona, no complaints there. But this is tomorrow. The storm gains strength and turns into a blizzard for parts of the Dakotas and into Duluth as well.

And, yes, then there is stop number three, the final stop, which may be the worst, Jim, because we are going to be impacted, millions of us, as far as snow and wind and heavy rain, even severe thunderstorms, across the Gulf Coast as we head through Saturday.

[17:54:56]

But this is going to be the killer here, Sunday, snow begins to break out. In places like New York, you can get two to three inches there. And we could be looking at anywhere from 12 to 18 inches of snowfall by Monday across portions of the northeast including Boston -- Jim.

ACOSTA: It is going to be a mess. CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera, thank you.

Coming up, the deadly terror attack in London. This is a SITUATION ROOM special report.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)