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Critical Days Ahead In Impeachment Inquiry; Trump Claims Progress In Peace Talks With The Taliban; Biden Kicks Off Eight-Day "No Malarkey" Bus Tour Across Iowa; The Rise And Fall Of The Kamala Harris Campaign. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 1, 2019 - 08:00   ET




NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Impeachment enters a critical new phase with Democrats claiming they have the upper hand.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Fifty percent of Americans believe that the president should be impeached and removed. That's a staggering number.

HENDERSON: But the president calls it a scam.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The radical left Democrats are trying to rip our nation apart.

HENDERSON: Plus, Joe Biden's Iowa campaign shifts into high gear.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I'm going to win Iowa.

HENDERSON: And Elizabeth Warren's summer surge gives way to a winter reckoning.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't do polls. I'm talking about what's broken in this country and about how to fix it.

HENDERSON: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters now.


HENDERSON: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Nia-Malika Henderson, in today for John King. Thanks for spending part of your Sunday with us.

After a Thanksgiving vacation, Congress returns this week to a capital divided over impeachment. Democrats have given themselves an unofficial Christmas deadline to vote on articles of impeachment. The Intelligence Committee is finishing work on its final report on the Ukraine scandal and plans to vote to approve it Tuesday night.

Then comes as the Judiciary Committee's first impeachment hearing on Wednesday, and more hearings are likely before the Judiciary Committee drafts and votes on articles of impeachment, and if they're approved, a House debate and final vote comes next. A lot to do in just a few weeks.

And the White House has a big decision to make this week. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has given President Trump until Friday to say if he'll send a lawyer to cross-examine witnesses and make his own case to the committee. And that's what Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton both did, but sources tell CNN that the White House is leaning against it. Instead, they want to paint the whole process as unfair and ill legitimate.


TRUMP: A witch hunt, the same as before, and they're pushing the impeachment witch hunt, and a lot of bad things are happening to them. Because you see what's happening in the polls? Everybody said that's really (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

The radical Democrats are trying to overturn the last election because they know that they cannot win the next election.


HENDERSON: Joining us now with their reporting and their insights, we've got Lisa Lerer of "The New York Times," Margaret Talev of "Axios", "The Washington Post's" Seung Min Kim, and "The Washington Post's" Dan Balz.

Thank you all for sharing your Sunday with us on this holiday weekend.

Let's get right to impeachment. Seung Min, you've been all over this and obviously some big developments coming this week.

What are you expecting from this intelligence committee, this report, any surprises, and as well, do you sense that this is kind of ending the investigative portion of the impeachment inquiry?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's certainly the case. I mean, Democrats have made it clear, particularly as we've seen these court decisions coming down, involving the former White House counsel Don McGahn and some of the other witnesses that have been refusing to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, that while, yes, some of the investigations could continue, they are moving on. They are not waiting for the courts. They are proceeding ahead with this tentative vote on impeachment before Christmas timeline, which is a pretty rapid timetable.

But with the report coming -- or voted to be released on Tuesday, it's a timetable that looks like they're going to be met. Now, the big question, as you mentioned earlier, is how is the White House going to engage in the next step of the process? Now, it goes from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee. There's going to be a big hearing on that on the 4th on Wednesday.

And you're going to see -- we've seen signs so far that yes, they may not fully participate in the process despite the complaints of being shut out of the process. And you've also seen congressional Republicans also continuing to make that process argument. They're saying, you know, during a similar hearing during the Clinton process, you got 19 witnesses.


KIM: There's only going to be four. We need some equality in that. So, they are going to continue to fight back.

HENDERSON: And the president has been talking this process down. Here he was talking about the impeachment process.


TRUMP: There was no due process. You can't have lawyers. We couldn't have any witnesses.

They're not allowed to even ask a question.

Because it's the minority. We have no lawyers, we can't question.


HENDERSON: Margaret, what do we expect from the president? He's been saying there's no due process. In fairness, I mean, it isn't like the Democrats are giving the president everything he wants. But is he expected to just decline to send any sort of representative and to keep up this idea that the process is just a sham?


MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think this is the strategic question that they face. But if they have concluded that they have no ability to stop the vote in the House and no real fear of, you know, imminent danger in the Senate, then their calculation is what is the margin in taking part in this? If we want to say it's not legitimate and then we legitimize it by participating, are we sending mixed signals?

You know, the president -- all of his political instincts come into play here, which is like, punch them back, fight them in the face, fight back. But the way of fighting back so far has been to say, this isn't real.

And it isn't true that it isn't real.


TALEV: It isn't true that the Democrats are making up stuff along the way. There's procedures set out. And there has always been a chance for them to participate. It is now.

But if the argument is working with the base, which is what they're aiming for, and if any pivot points don't happen until the Senate, what is the upside?

HENDERSON: That's the point. And we saw on Tuesday in Florida, talking directly to the base about this process.


TRUMP: You're smarter, you're better looking, you're sharper.


And they call themselves elite. But if they're elite, then we're the super elite. Can you imagine? They take this perfect call and they want to impeach your president.

The failed Washington establishment is trying to stop me because I'm fighting for you and because we're winning. It's very simple.


HENDERSON: And, Dan, this has obviously been this president's strategy with everything, to hug the base very tightly. They respond in kind. There's never really any sort of strategy to broaden.

Is this the right course for the president at this time?

DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, in his estimation, it's been working. It's been working since he ran for president and he thinks it's going to work through the re-election.

And one of the things we've seen certainly in the polling is that, while support for impeachment jumped up at the beginning of this Ukraine scandal, opposition has begun to tick up as this process has gone on. And so, I think if you are a Republican, if you're the president, you are saying whatever we're doing is working. We are dividing the country. There's not growing support for this. And the Democrats are now on the defensive, because they had always said this ought to be bipartisan.

HENDERSON: Right, and we can go here to the poll numbers you're talking about. You look back in March, it was 36 percent, and it has jumped up to 50 percent. But really since then, it's pretty much stayed the same and leveled off.

Lisa, do you sense that Democrats do think at some point that the numbers will change for them in terms of this? And before you answer, I want to jump in with another impeachment poll here. If you look at the numbers here, 46 percent, strong pro-impeachment, 32 percent, strong anti-impeachment, and then it's about 15 percent, 6 percent no opinion at all, and 9 percent soft either way.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think Democrats think that this is a pretty risky process, particularly those in the sort of battleground districts that helped the party win back control of the House. I can say that when you're out on the presidential campaign, this is not something that comes up all that much.

HENDERSON: Right. LERER: Once in a while somebody asks a question, maybe there's a question per event, but for the most part Democrats are far more focused on issues like health care, the economy, and I think the concern is that the longer the impeachment goes on, the more they get away from talking about those issues. And there's certainly a contingent of the party that believes those were the issues that helped them win back the House and that is a successful message.

So we'll have to see. It doesn't seem like this is really changing minds as the polling points out and as Dan pointed out, the numbers have sort of stagnated with about like half the country in favor and half the country opposed.

HENDERSON: And, Seung Min, you see in some of these districts, these sort of swing districts, these Democrats are being flooded with ads by Republicans who are saying, why are the Democrats so focused on impeachment, when there are all these other issues that they should be paying attention to?

KIM: And that's why Republicans feel a little bit on the defensive right now, especially those moderate districts. I'm going to be interested in seeing the reaction of those swing states, or swing moderate districts, moderate Democrats, once we come back from the recess this week.

Mikie Sherrill, who is a Democratic freshman, she flipped a Republican seat in New Jersey. There's some reporting on her town hall this past week when she was back home, and while her previous town halls had been focused on kitchen table issues such as health care and the economy, prescription drug prices and the gamut, there were a lot of impeachment questions at the town hall. She faced a lot of pressure.

HENDERSON: The crowd, yes.

KIM: And I think that she was one of those people that really -- was reticent on impeachment when the Mueller investigation was going on. But when the Ukraine matter really came to the forefront, she has a national security background, she felt compelled to lean into it.


So, I'm really interested in seeing her reactions and her thoughts on the process earlier this week.

HENDERSON: Yes. Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff have said all along they reluctantly came to this but also had no choice.

Up next, long-simmering tensions between President Trump and military leaders spill out into the open.



TRUMP: There's nowhere I'd rather celebrate this Thanksgiving than right here with the toughest, strongest, best and bravest warriors on the face of the earth. We thank God for your help and all of the things that you have done. You're very special people.

And you don't even know how much the people of our country love and respect you. And they do. It's why I'm here. I'm just bringing the message.


HENDERSON: President Trump made his first-ever visit to Afghanistan this week, traveling in secret and surprising U.S. troops for Thanksgiving.

He also met with his Afghan counterpart and appeared to breathe new life into efforts to bring America's longest war to a close.


TRUMP: The Taliban wants to make a deal. We'll see if they make a deal. If they do, they do. If they don't, they don't.

We're meeting with them and we're saying there has to be a ceasefire. They didn't want to do a cease fire but now they do a ceasefire. And we're going to stay until such time as we have a deal or we have total victory.


And they want to make a deal very badly.


HENDERSON: But the president may have gotten just a bit out in front of his skis. U.S. officials say there's only been some sporadic contact with the Taliban and that they're still in the process of restarting talks.

American and Taliban negotiators appear to be nearing a deal in September to reduce violence potentially laying the groundwork for an eventual peace agreement, before President Trump abruptly ended those talks after an American soldier was killed in Afghanistan.

A Taliban spokesman so far says that as far as they're concerned, nothing has changed since then. The Americans walked away from the negotiating table and now the ball is on their side. Our positions remain the same.

CNN military and diplomatic analyst, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby joins the discussion.

Thanks so much, Kirby, for being with us.


HENDERSON: Why now, in terms of the president on making a big proclamation over in Afghanistan, and when he talks about a ceasefire in terms of the Taliban agreeing to that, is that something that's, in fact, real and on the table?

KIRBY: It doesn't appear to be real and on the table now, particularly if you listen to the Taliban react to his comments. Why now? It could just be that he wanted a headline to come out of this troop talk. I mean, it might be that he's ahead of his skis and maybe there's something afoot, and he just got a little bit more detailed than he should have been, or maybe he just wanted to try to make a headline and sort of energize the process that he feels is stalled.

So, I make an announcement, maybe that changes the game on the ground. I don't know.

HENDERSON: Yes. And, Margaret, if you think about the president and his foreign policy victories, there haven't been many. Of course, the al-Baghdadi thing is a big one and reducing ISIS territory as well.

But you look at this list, the Afghanistan peace talks obviously stalled here, North Korea nuclear deal, there isn't one, China trade agreement, there isn't one. Iran pressure campaign doesn't really seem to be working. The Syria withdrawal, still troops are there.

And the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, which was Jared Kushner's big goal, right?


HENDERSON: Yes, so the president obviously casting about for some sort of victory here.

TALEV: Well, I think it's great that the president went to visit the troops over the holiday. It's a longstanding tradition --


TALEV: -- that all presidents eventually take part in at some point in their presidencies. And it comes during impeachment, at a time when the president wants to show that he is focused on other things.

Democrats are going after him on politics, he's trying to make a deal with China. The Democrats are going after him for impeachment, he's focused on military challenges and supporting the troops.

And it also comes at a time when the president is trying to energize all of his bases for re-election. It's true that he has real problems with the military brass that are exacerbated by a lot of recent decisions, including Ukraine, but the rank-and-file are different, can be different types of voters, different constituencies, and some of the polling, recent polling shows that there is perhaps even tick-up support for President Trump inside the rank-and-file, and that's some of the messaging you see here.

HENDERSON: And we've got some reporting from Barbara Starr talking about Trump and the military brass.

Dismay in the Pentagon has been building over Trump's sporadic, impulsive and contradictory decision-making on a range of issues. Top military leaders say they are concerned about Trump's divisive rhetoric and politicization of the military. They also tell CNN they worry the president's mercurial management style -- often expressed through tweets -- may be undermining national security by making military planning increasingly difficult.

Kirby, I want you to weigh in on this.

KIRBY: It's not about may be undermining and making decision-making more difficult. It is. I mean, just think about his abrupt tweet about withdrawing from Syria and the chaos that that caused inside the Pentagon and Central Command in terms of how do you manage resources in the middle of an active fight.

So, it's clearly affecting their ability to plan and the military is a planning organization. You have to when you're talking about lives and resources of that value.

I don't think that we're at a breaking point here in civil military relations. I really don't. He has been chipping way at the apolitical nature of the military since he became president. No question.

I do however and I agree with Margaret, I think we're at an inflection point and these recent actions over Ukraine and the pardoning of these war criminals, I think that's an inflection point in civil military relations, and I am very concerned about where it's going from here.

HENDERSON: And concerns about divisions and Margaret was talking about this between rank-and-file and military leaders.

KIRBY: Yes. Look, I mean, the military is a microcosm of America, so you have people of all political persuasions in the military. You have age differences, older veterans tend to feel differently than younger, and rural versus urban, and yes, they are encouraged to vote.


KIRBY: So you have Democrats and Republicans. There is -- there are no question that in the rank-and-file, there's a lot of support for Donald Trump.


But it's also true that there's also many veterans or many people in the military, active duty, who don't support him politically. But this is the key thing, they will all support him from an institutional perspective, from a mission perspective. They take that politics and they put it aside and they do the job.

HENDERSON: And Trump has often had a lot to say about generals.


TRUMP: I know more about ISIS than the generals do.

The generals have been reduced to rubble. It's embarrassing for our country.

I like General Mattis. I think I know more about it than he does.

I gave our generals all the money they wanted. They didn't do such a great job in Afghanistan.

I stuck up for three great warriors against the deep state. People can sit there in air-conditioned offices and complain. But you know what? Doesn't matter to me whatsoever.


HENDERSON: This has been a hallmark of his presidency, on the one hand going after leadership, in this case generals, but also he has surrounded himself by generals in ways that other presidents hadn't.

BALZ: Well, he did early on. That's certainly the case.

HENDERSON: Right, yes.

BALZ: But what we've seen is there's been steady attrition over the three years of his presidency. And people like General Mattis, who was his first secretary of defense, ultimately --


BALZ: -- up and left with a very strong statement saying you deserve somebody who basically has your point of view.

We have not seen a lot of that, of people who have served him who have gone out with some anger, but we did see it with the Navy secretary recently, who was very upset about the intervention on the Eddie Gallagher case.


Up next, Joe Biden hits the road in Iowa with a clear message for his 2020 rivals, don't count him out just yet.



HENDERSON: Joe Biden is hitting the Iowa campaign trail in a big, big way. The former vice president kicked off his "no malarkey" bus tour this weekend, an eight-day, 18-county swing through the Hawkeye State just two months before caucus day.


REPORTER: Is this bus tour going to turn things around for your campaign here now?

BIDEN: I think our campaign is going fine and I think it's going to help. We've got to earn the votes, got to show up. That's what I'm doing. REPORTER: Vice President, can you win the nomination without winning

in Iowa?

BIDEN: Yes, but I'm going to win Iowa.


HENDERSON: That confidence might not be misplaced. Despite consistent attacks from rivals and liberal activists, Biden has proven to be a pretty resilient candidate. A CNN poll this past week shows him maintaining a double digit lead nationally over his nearest rivals, while one of his biggest threats, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, loses ground.

And when it comes to the early states, he's also in a pretty good position.

And, Dan, I'm going to go to you on this. If you look at the early state polls, he's basically tied for second in Iowa with Elizabeth Warren and in New Hampshire, kind of second there as well. Nevada leading, South Carolina leading. I feel like there's a chattering class of pundits and strategists who say Biden can't cross the finish line on this and voters who seem to be sticking with Biden.

BALZ: Well, he has certain attributes and I think those have been consistent throughout the campaign. I mean, one is he is well-liked within the Democratic Party.


BALZ: The second is he has the broadest coalitional support in the party, and particularly strong support in the African-American community. That is very, very important.

But I think the question is, can he sustain significant losses in those first two states? The national polling is fine, it gives them something to talk about. But what really matters is what happens in those early states. If he loses both Iowa and New Hampshire, then the question is does the black support that he has in South Carolina begin to fracture and move elsewhere? We don't know the answer to that.

HENDERSON: And, Lisa, I've been surprised by how bullish Biden and his folks around his campaign who I talked to, how bullish they on Iowa, all of a sudden. He said just recently, he feels like he can win Iowa. The folks I talk to also say they feel like he can win Iowa. They feel like Pete has peaked to soon and maybe there'll be a plummet.

Talk about this Iowa strategy from Joe Biden at this point.

LERER: Well, I think they think by projecting confidence, they help build support and projecting weakness in the state doesn't make people necessarily want to come behind you.

I think Dan's analysis is exactly right here. And what we don't know is sort of the mythical quality of momentum and how that plays out. This is a contest where Democrats more than anything else, when you talk to these Democratic voters, want to figure out who can win, who can beat President Trump. Electability is the dominant sort of characteristic that they're looking for, and whether you can suss that out in advance is really hard to tell, whether voters can accurately judge that.

But that is what they're looking for and nothing makes a candidate look more electability and winning in some of these races. So, how this starts to unfold once candidates, there are contests and candidates are winning them, and what the impact is on later contests is what we cannot know, and it will have a huge factor in how this all shakes out.

HENDERSON: And, Seung Min, for a while, Warren was riding high. You look at her recent numbers, overall support taking quite a hit. Overall support in this since mid-October, overall support down by 16; in terms of being the best leader; down by 9; best policy ideas, down by 17; and best chance to beat Trump.

What happened to Elizabeth Warren and can she turn it around?

KIM: The down -- the down -- the falling of the numbers in the best policy ideas is really striking because she had --

HENDERSON: That's her whole thing, right?


KIM: Her platform of being the person with a plan, having ideas for everything and being able to communicate and execute those plans very well.


But I think -- and Dan was on a story with two of my other great colleagues yesterday -- earlier this week on what may have happened to Warren. And that's her position on Medicare-for-All.

And we've seen how health care has constantly tripped up essentially everyone in this Democratic field, but more warrens especially. Especially when she started rising in the polls and other people in the race started to attack her on how -- how would you pay for it, how would you execute this. And she did not have great answers for them.

And I think when -- when she was kind of put on the defensive and having to clarify her position and having to put those details out there, was really -- could be a really key point for her campaign.

HENDERSON: And Pete Buttigieg has been blasting the air waves in Iowa and part of his focus has been Warren and Medicare for all.


PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Medicare for all who want it can work in a way that creates that public alternative, gets everybody covered. But unlike the Medicare for all plan, it doesn't dictate that to the American people and risk further polarizing them.

Let every American have the choice to walk away from the corporate private plans but when they're ready --


HENDERSON: So progressives think she's backing off a little bit for Medicare for all and then others feel like she's embracing it too tightly. She seems to be straddling both camps here and pleasing nobody.

TALEV: Health care is the central thing for Democratic voters, like Democratic voters care a lot about health care. And everybody wants the coverage of Medicare for all and nobody wants to pay for it and nobody wants to lose their private insurance if they have it which is most high propensity voters (INAUDIBLE).

Therein you see the problem. Health care has not really been a problem for Joe Biden, though. And what I'm curious about is on this "No Malarkey" tour that is --

HENDERSON: It rolls off the tongue.

TALEV: That's right.


TALEV: So if you are going to like recapture the essential Biden, if he's going to let his inner Biden out on this trail, like I cannot wait to watch that unfold (ph) and to cover it. And it's been frustrating as someone who has covered Joe Biden for many years to watch kind of a stage-managed version of Joe Biden where he's like trying to think carefully about what is the thing that he was going to say, what he's going to say.

Joe Biden is beloved by so many people because he is a unique character with charisma. And I think there are these two sort of competing strategies in his campaign.

One is like let's let him be full Joe and the other is like we need to get him there on time and have him now say anything that's going to be a gaffe. If "No Malarkey" Joe comes out like hugging women and showing up late and, you know --

HENDERSON: Close talking.

TALEV: -- I actually -- I kind of think that has to be your strategy if you're really trying to connect with people which is what this tour is about, then be yourself and connect.

HENDERSON: And Lisa -- Bernie Sanders, his supporters say, you know, the kind of folks that are sitting around this table don't talk about him enough. And if you look at his support, it's steady and folks who like him really like him. They have their mind made up.

If you look at Sanders, 49 percent of folks who back him say their mind is made up, 43 percent for Biden, and Warren and Buttigieg not so much. Not doing as well in terms of attracting those voters who are just do or die.

So what do you make of Sanders? What is his strategy going forward?

LERER: I think the question has always been for Bernie Sanders whether he can expand his coalition beyond 2016. And, you know, we don't know whether he can. He has survived this heart attack very well, which has been remarkable.

HENDERSON: Yes. It's huge, yes.

LERER: I mean this is a big deal. We have --

HENDERSON: He seems like a different person.

LERER: -- in his late 70s. Yes, he does seem to have a lot more energy, I will say, who survived -- you know, who had a heart attack while running for president and is still in the running is a pretty remarkable thing, I think.

But whether he can build the coalition really will determine whether he can capture the nomination. What the Sanders people would argue is that their voters turn out later, that they're people who, you know, perhaps are more working class. They're not as engaged as early in the process. They're working and balancing multiple jobs.

We will have to see whether that proves to be right.

HENDERSON: And he's certainly got the money to do what he needs to do in terms of ads and hiring folks, so we'll see what happens with Sanders.

Next, a super PAC backing Cory Booker takes some shots at Pete Buttigieg.



HENDERSON: Let's turn now to some "Sunday Trail Mix" for a taste of the 2020 campaign.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is in North Carolina this morning and will attend a church service led by one of the state's most prominent African- American leaders. His outreach to black voters hasn't led to anything quite yet. The latest CNN national poll had him at just 4 percent among non-white Democrats. Buttigieg says he knows he's got a lot of work to do.


BUTTIGIEG: Any time something isn't going the way we want, we sit and look at how to make improvements going forward. And that's a continuous process in every area of this campaign. And particularly for something as important as reaching out to minority voters. We will continue to look at what's working, what isn't, and how to make sure that's what's in my plans, but also just what's inside me is communicated the right way and that we're listening as much as we're speaking.


HENDERSON: Meanwhile, a super PAC that's backing Senator Cory Booker is on air with its first ad in Iowa and it doesn't pull any punches.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a Rhodes scholar, a successful mayor, a uniter? No -- not that guy. It's Cory Booker. Cory doesn't just talk, he brings people together to make things happen.

This Rhodes scholar mayor has what it takes to beat Donald Trump.


HENDERSON: Now Booker told CNN on Friday that he hadn't seen the ad and that he believes the Democratic Party must stay united.

And up next, what went wrong for Kamala Harris and does she still have time to make it right?



HENDERSON: The 2020 Democratic field is the largest and most diverse ever, but as fall turns to winter, just four candidates all of them white -- Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg -- have significant support in the latest CNN national poll. Seven more registered between 1 percent and 3 percent including Kamala Harris whose fall from the top tier has been dramatic.

She was at 17 percent in CNN's June poll immediately after a widely- praised debate performance, good enough at the time for second place.

Now she's at 3 percent nationally and the picture isn't much prettier in the early states. The California senator is running out of money and has laid off much of her staff, but says there's still time for a comeback story.


SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you look at at least three of the top people on the ticket, they've been on the national stage for decades. They're well known. They are, for that reason, familiar and the challenge that those of us who have not been on the national stage or those of us who have not run for president for, is to make ourselves known.


HENDERSON: So she's been running since January, almost a year now. Is the problem that she isn't well known enough?

LERER: I think part of the problem has been messaging. We had a story yesterday detailing problems within her campaign --


LERER: -- how the campaign was managed. A lot of her campaign came from California and most of their experience was running races in that state, which is really different than running a national presidential campaign. And certainly California looks very little like Iowa.

I think the question is going to be whether she can make a comeback story and get into that top tier of four or so candidates who have been up there for a number of weeks kind of fighting it out at the top.


LERER: But she has a lot of competition. Senator Cory Booker is trying to get up there.


LERER: Senator Amy Klobuchar is trying to get up there. And she feels that she has a little boost of Klo-mentum -- that it's happened for her.

HENDERSON: Did you just coin that?

LERER: What? I just coined it.



LERER: It's happened (ph), right.

So we'll have to see whether any of them can transition into that top tier, but time is ticking away and, you know, the clock is counting down.

HENDERSON: Yes, definitely. And part of her issue is money. She doesn't have enough money to put ads on the air in those early states.

The headline -- brutal headline really from the "New York Times" - Dan, how Kamala Harris's campaign unraveled. "In one instance after another, Ms. Harris and her closest advisers made flawed decisions about which states to focus on, issues to emphasize and opponents to target, all the while refusing to make difficult personnel choices to impose order on an unwieldy campaign, according to more than 50 current and former campaign staff and allies, most of them whom spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations and assessments involving the candidate."

Fifty people went on -- but that was a stunning, I think, example of the turmoil in her campaign and how folks are worried about its future.

BALZ: Yes, that was a very good piece. I think that though when you get to the core of the issue, it is that Kamala Harris -- it's not that she's not well known. It is that she hasn't defined herself in a way that people really know who she is.

Obviously they've had intrigue in the campaign, clashes in the campaign. Those are commonplace in a campaign that's struggling. But she hit turbulence in that debate in Detroit when she tangled with Joe Biden. She hit him first in this one early debate, then he hit her.

She's never fully recovered from that. And she's tried a variety of messages and ideas and things and it hasn't come together.

In a race like this, you never say anybody is out of it because surprises happen. But when you go down like that, it's very difficult to come back up quickly.

HERRIDGE: And consistency, Sung Min, in terms of the messaging, a really difficult thing for her. And lately it's been she has been arguing that she's in the best place to bring the Obama coalition back together again.

KIM: Exactly, but I mean and Dan's point about not being able to define herself has been really one of the big problems for her. We talked earlier about Elizabeth Warren's issues with health care.

Kamala Harris has had her own issues with whether you fully embrace Medicare for all. We saw the moment where she said yes, get rid of private insurance and what-not. And you see just how -- you know, I covered her before she started running for president when she had focused on other issues in the Senate. She had talked a lot about immigration, justice for the DACA kids, talked about justice issues in general. She made herself known for interrogating Trump officials.

HENDERSON: Being a prosecutor -- right.

KIM: And you haven't seen that as much in the national stage.

HENDERSON: Yes. So we'll see what happens with her, a couple of weeks to go before Iowa.

Our reporters share a page from their notebooks next, including a preview of President Trump's trip to London this week and why he won't be meeting with one of his BFFs on the world stage.



HENDERSON: Time now for our reporters to share a page from notebooks to help get you out in front of the big news this week.

Lisa -- we'll start with you.

LERER: Well, this month we start to get the first signs of how impeachment could impact the 2020 race. While the numbers on impeachment have stayed relatively stagnant for the past, you know, couple of weeks they've moved dramatically since the spring.

But in races where Democrats did well this month, Kentucky and Louisiana, internal polling from Democratic committees showed that impeachment was actually a drag. That Democrats feel that they lost those -- they won those races by a smaller margin than they would have had the impeachment hearings not been going on. And that's because the proceeding in Congress sort of encouraged Trump supporters to get out there and vote against the Democratic nominee for governor.

They still won in both of the states but that is why you hear -- part of the reason why Democrats are eager to move this process quickly and get it done as far before the 2020 election.

HENDERSON: And ideally for Democrats maybe it will be in the rearview mirror by November 2020.

LERER: Right.

HENDERSON: Margaret.

TALEV: Nia -- I will be watching President Trump's trip to NATO this week. It is a short trip but as you know, a lot of crazy things could happen in just a couple of days. But also -- you know, I'll mostly be watching his interactions or noninteractions with Boris Johnson.

Of course, Johnson is one of the President's best friends in the foreign leader category. But he sent very clear -- basically explicit stay away instructions and that's because in about ten days there are really important elections in Britain that are going to help decide the fate of parliament, whether Boris stays in charge and because of that what is going to happen with or to Brexit.

And President Trump is unpopular in Britain right now. And so we note that they will see each other at a larger foreign leaders' meeting but they do not have any of those sort of one of the one-on-ones that -- where the news most often gets made.

We did see the President do a quick phone call with Boris Johnson over the weekend to send condolences for the terror attack but the surest way to make President Trump want to do something to do is to tell him that he can't --

HENDERSON: Stay away.

TALEV: -- so as the President always says (ph), we'll see what happens.

HENDERSON: Oh, boy. Interesting. We'll see what develops there.

Sung Min.

KIM: This week could be the week where we see a new NAFTA deal come together that Congress could sign off on. But for months the President has been hammering Democrats on the lack of movement on the U.S./Mexico/Canada trade deal. But there were some good signs for the deal last week when the top Mexican trade negotiators said there is no reason why the three countries can't sign off on an agreement as soon as this week.

Negotiators say they are really close. This is something that Democrats do want to do. They had been holding out for more enforcement provisions to make sure that all these provisions of this new labor deal will be executed properly.

And as we've seen impeachment go on we've seen the President get louder and louder about the Democrats inaction on USMCA but right now Democrats say they were just waiting for the administration to fine- tune a couple of things and they might be able to get that as early as this week.

HENDERSON: I feel like it's been really close for a while. And maybe it's this week.


BALZ: Everything is close.

We've talked about Iowa. I want to pitch forward a little bit and talk about how what we might be able to anticipate in the future. One of the things is we should anticipate a roller coaster ride from here to the caucuses.

I looked back at the Real Clear Politics numbers over the course of the year in Iowa and the top two people back in March. It was Biden and Sanders who were the top two. Then in September it was Biden and Warren. In October it was Warren and Biden.



BALZ: In early November it was Warren and Pete Buttigieg.


BALZ: And now it is Buttigieg and everybody else well behind.


BALZ: Ann Selzer who does the Iowa poll and has the best grasp of Iowa says one thing you should always remember is that she says I will never say that Iowa has gelled. She has taken polls in the final few days before the caucuses and on a number of occasions seen dramatic movement in those final few days.

So wherever things look today, wherever they looked at the beginning of next year -- hang on.

HENDERSON: Right. A lot more to come from Iowa.

And I'll close with this. Keep an eye on Georgia. Governor Brian Kemp is expected to announce his choice for replacing retiring Senator Johnny Isakson in the next few days. The front-runner is Kelly Loeffler, a financial executive who would be just the second woman to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate. Yet Kemp's possible choice is rankling Republicans including President Trump and his allies who have been pushing Kemp to name Representative Doug Collins, a staunch Trump ally.

Will Kemp defy his party by naming Loeffler, a move that could help the GOP with women voters in the Peach State. At least one Republican has said that should Kemp defy Trump he may face a primary challenge when he's on the ballot in 2022.

No matter the outcome, the next senator from Georgia will face a crowded field in 2020 as Democrats look to make inroads particularly among white suburban women.

And that is it for INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch us week days as well at noon Eastern.

Up next, we've got "STATE OF THE UNION" with Dana Bash. Her guest includes Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning.