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Winter Storm Pummels Northeast U.S.; White House Won't Participate in Judiciary Hearing on Wednesday; House Intel Members to Review Impeachment Report Today; Debunking Sen. Kennedy's False Claims about Ukraine Interference. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired December 2, 2019 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Deadly weather marches across the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew if we got stranded, we kind of prepared for that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The same system that brought heavy snow to the Northern Plains is now shifting to the Northeast.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The White House responded to House Judiciary Chairman, Jerry Nadler's, offer to let the White House have a lawyer present at Wednesday's hearing. And the White House will not be sending an attorney.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): Rounds one and two by Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff are as rigged as a carnival ring toss.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. it is Monday, December 2, 6 a.m. here in New York. John Berman is off this morning. Jim Sciutto joins me.
Great to have you here.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT/ANCHOR: And it's nice to be here. There's a little bit of news today.
CAMEROTA: There's a lot of news. More than we were expecting, in fact.
First, a powerful winter storm wreaking havoc across the northeast U.S. this morning, bringing heavy snow, freezing rain, and destructive winds. Thousands of flights have been canceled or delayed, and driving conditions are treacherous. The West Coast also coping with snow, flooding, and power outages. Fifty million Americans from Maine to California are under winter storm alerts this morning. That was Oregon that we were just seeing there.
SCIUTTO: It looks messy out there.
CAMEROTA: It is.
SCIUTTO: At the same time, there are a lot of developments in the impeachment inquiry.
President Trump's lawyers announcing they will not participate in the House Judiciary Committee's first hearing on Wednesday. "The Washington Post" reporting that four constitutional scholars -- three chosen by Democrats, one by Republicans -- will testify about the standards for impeachment. It comes as members of the House Intelligence Committee will review their impeachment reports ahead of a key vote tomorrow.
All this happening as President Trump heads to London this morning to attend the NATO summit.
Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Miguel Marquez. He is live in Albany, New York, where things are not looking so great. Tell us what you're seeing up there.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, lots and lots of snow, Jim. Look, this is how much we've gotten so far. It's about a foot here in Albany. This is the state capitol grounds.
I want to show you how much snow they've moved overnight here. This is what the streets are looking like. Several feet of snow they've moved up into the drifts along the streets. The streets are not looking bad, given how much snow they've had in this area overnight.
State police here saying that they have already responded to 550 road- related incidents from the snow.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Treacherous weather from coast to coast stalling millions of travelers trying to return home after Thanksgiving weekend. The holiday storm system charging east with snow and freezing rain, causing thousands of flight delays across the country; the storm hammering the Northeast.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got to put the snow shovel by the front door now, because we're going to have to get a path to the car made. Winter is officially here.
MARQUEZ: Upstate New Yorkers blinded by whiteouts creating hazardous driving conditions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have 18 snowplows, 13 major snow routes. So we've got all our trucks covering all our routes at this time, and we'll keep going until it stops snowing.
MARQUEZ: The icy conditions leading this Delta flight to skid off a taxiway runway in Buffalo.
CHIEF WILLIAM MAJOR, NFTA FIRE DEPARTMENT: The weather and the icing is an issue for the airfield. It's one of the bigger challenges they have.
MARQUEZ: And in Maryland, heavy fog being blamed for this 25-car pileup.
The Great Lakes region dumped with heavy snow all weekend.
And on Saturday, a plane crashed in South Dakota during a storm shortly after takeoff, killing nine people, including two children.
In Arizona a frantic search still underway to find a 6-year-old girl who was in a car swept away in floodwaters on Friday. The bodies of two other children missing from the same vehicle were found on Saturday.
LT. VIGIL DODD, GILA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We're going to have helicopters in the air. Just really hitting it hard today to find this little girl. We need to get this girl home today.
MARQUEZ: Now, here in the East, it has just been a brutal 24 hours. What started off as rain and then sleet turned to snow very heavily, and it's not over yet. We've got a break for about an hour this morning, and now it is back. This is sleet, and it looks like it's going to turn to snow here shortly -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: We know you'll be on it, Miguel. Thanks very much.
So how much snow will fall? How long will the storm last? CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has the forecast.
So is this going to be with us for a while?
CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: Probably 24 hours before it finally pulls out of Boston, I think, for sure. But upstate New York, all of New England going to get pounded by snow today. And we've already seen all that snow that's been on the ground slow things down.
For a while yesterday, I was checking Google Traffic. There wasn't one interstate moving more than 35 miles per hour. And many of the airports in New York City were backed up between one and three hours. And when that happens, you don't make connections. So I'm assuming there are some people watching from the airport this morning.
It'll be 37, though, in New York City today. It gets colder tonight, and it does begin to snow. We will get 2 to 3 inches of snow even in Manhattan, especially up toward the northern sections into Brooklyn an the Bronx. All will see at least two to three inches.
But the big story is how much snow will fall eventually in Boston. Already a lot of snow on Worcester across the Berkshires. Quite a bit of snow to shovel out. It's not really shoveling this morning. It's getting to somewhere. Now everybody trying to get back to work, it's going to be a long couple of hours.
We're going to see another 6 to 10 inches of snow, depending where you are, especially the Alleghenies and the Catskills and the Green and White Mountains and, again, up to the Berkshires and into Maine.
It does warm up. It all melts eventually. But for the next couple of hours, especially the next 24, it's going to be quite slick -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Yes. When you say, "eventually," I think you mean, like, May, June. I mean, it is winter now for the next few months.
MYERS: No, Thursday.
CAMEROTA: OK. That is sooner.
SCIUTTO: Or Thursday.
CAMEROTA: All right, Chad. Thank you very much.
CAMEROTA: So the Trump administration's signaling that they will continue to take a defiant approach to the impeachment proceedings ahead of a critical week. Their plan, next.
CAMEROTA: OK. Breaking overnight, President Trump's legal team informing the House Judiciary Committee that the president will not participate in their first impeachment hearing this Wednesday, insisting that the process is unfair.
Now, the House Intelligence Committee is expected to give members the chance to review its impeachment report this evening.
Joining us now to talk about what's ahead, we have CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart. He was President Clinton's press secretary. And CNN legal analyst Elie Honig.
So Trump's lawyers announced that they will not participate this Wednesday in what's going to happen at the House Judiciary. It sounds like their beef, Elie, is that the witness list hasn't been released yet. They basically say that they don't know what they're going into. Is that fair?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is actually is, I think, a fair complaint. I don't think it's a fair reason to sit it out altogether. Look, we could see this coming a mile away. They've been complaining for weeks now: unfair process, we don't get a voice, we don't get a voice. And then, shocker, they decide to sit it out and play the victim rather than engage on the merits. That said, unforced error by Jerry Nadler. If you look at the letter
from the Republicans, the main complaint is, you haven't even told us who the witnesses are for Wednesday, three days away from yesterday when the deadline was. Why wouldn't Nadler -- it's just -- just three constitutional scholars. Just give them the names. Take that argument away.
And I am a little concerned on behalf of House Democrats. Is Nadler up to this? I think he really fumbled in the aftermath of Mueller. I think Adam Schiff did a much stronger job. But now it's back to Nadler. And unforced errors like this don't do Democrats any favors.
SCIUTTO: Also, Joe Lockhart, forgive me for -- for implying that there might be some self-interest here on the part of Republicans, but they would face risk if they showed up, would they not? You know, repeatedly claiming the executive privilege, for instance. Or having to defend some areas where -- where the answers from Republican witnesses just don't add up.
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Listen, I don't think Wednesday's hearing is that big a deal, because it's constitutional scholars. And what I think the White House has become expert at is making excuses and then forgetting that they made the previous excuse and the previous excuse before that.
But they do face risk when they get into any of the evidence. Because it's OK for a member of Congress to ask a misleading question or to use a false premise in asking a question. It's not OK for anyone under oath to give a false and misleading answer.
And the one thing the White House has avoided doing completely, from the beginning, is addressing the evidence in this case. It's all been peripheral issues, things like, we want the hearings to be open. We want them to be closed. We want them to move fast. We want them to move slowly. Whatever the Democrats are doing, they're against. All in a method to just not address the evidence.
CAMEROTA: Yes, the timing argument, I find a little bit confusing. Do we want things to go fast or do we not? I thought that Republicans were saying we can't get it into an election year. That would eclipse some of the race. So let's do this fast.
And now they're -- what they were all saying yesterday, one of the talking points was Democrats are speeding this through. Democrats are racing to the finish line. Aren't we supposed to race to the finish line here?
HONIG: That was a strange argument. I think they understand it's in Democrats' interest to move fast here.
And to Joe's point, we've really seen -- the Republican defenses have just been whack a mole down. I mean, as soon as one pops up, it gets -- it gets smacked down. A new one pops up; it gets smacked down.
Last week we saw, I think, the death of "I want nothing," right? That was the big one for a couple days: I want nothing. That's what I said to Gordon Sondland. Turns out it was after the whistle-blower complaint had come out.
And this whole thing really underscores the extent to which Republicans are unwilling to engage on the merits and the facts. And so for them, I think, better to boycott it and claim to be victims than to engage.
SCIUTTO: Is Sondland in danger here of having misled the committee? Because now there are questions as to whether this September 9 phone call he claimed to have had with the president even happened here.
LOCKHART: Yes, listen, he was in danger in his first deposition, which is why he had to file an addendum and then correct it again. But I think Democrats treated him with kid gloves, because they needed his testimony. They needed what he said.
I think now he's in serious legal jeopardy. Because it appears that this call may not have happened, that he made it up out of whole cloth. Or he made it up in coordination with the White Houses, to make the president say, "I want nothing, I want nothing." If that -- and I think that is the kind of thing that we may see in the intel report. That the committee will have an opinion on things like that, things like people not testifying, you know, again. So there may be some nuggets of information when that gets looked at tonight and released this week.
CAMEROTA: Elie, tell us more about that, because there was that five- hour lapse.
CAMEROTA: Between the time that Bill Taylor expressed concern about the quid pro quo and when Gordon Sondland got back to him.
HONIG: There are real questions about whether that call actually happened. He was very specific. It happened in between those two texts. One just after midnight, one just after 5 a.m., which is strange if you think about it to begin with. He's picking up a cell phone and calling the president at 1 a.m., 2 a.m.?
Also, the testimony of two other witnesses, Morrison and Taylor, was different about that call. They said it happened three days earlier. He told us about it. We have contemporaneous notes from when he told us about it. And what was stated was much worse for Donald Trump. It was -- it was no quid pro quo but he needs to get -- Zelensky needs to get to a microphone. That's, I believe, what really happened.
And I think Sondland's engaged, as Joe said, in some fudging here. It's a tricky scenario for Democrats, because even though he fudged in Trump's favor, he's still overall helpful to their case. I'm looking for that report to see how they cast him.
SCIUTTO: Before we leave, the other question is do Democrats expand this beyond the Ukraine issue, right? To, for instance, the instances of alleged obstruction found in the Mueller report. One, do you think it's likely? And two, do you think it's smart?
LOCKHART: I think it is. It's smart for them to establish a pattern of just -- of obstruction. This isn't just about what Republicans are saying, one phone call. It's a massive conspiracy that started, you know, a year before.
I think they also may go back and look at his written answers and put a perjury charge in there. And because I think there's some symmetry to the fact that in 1998, for Republicans, it was good enough on just perjury and obstruction. There didn't have to be crime. Perjury and obstruction. So I don't think they should go any broader than that. But I think they'd be smart to do it.
SCIUTTO: Bring an opportunity to bring a lot of those quotes from 20 years ago --
SCIUTTO: -- from the Lindsey Grahams of the world saying, remember, saying that lying, by itself, to the American people, impeachable. Some changed their tune in the meantime.
SCIUTTO: Keep track of that. We might call them on that.
LOCKHART: Yes, yes.
SCIUTTO: Thanks to both of you.
Republican Senator John Kennedy, a sitting member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, continues to peddle debunked conspiracy theories about who interfered in the 2016 election. This even after apologizing last week here on CNN for doing just that. We're going to lay out the facts -- they're important -- next.
CAMEROTA: Since the 2016 election, President Trump has searched for someone to blame other than Russia for interfering in the U.S. election, despite the clear assessment by multiple U.S. intelligence agencies.
The impeachment inquiry in the House has brought the president's belief in a conspiracy theory that Ukraine is the one that meddled in the election into full view. And now Republican lawmakers seem to be picking up on it. Here's Republican Senator Kennedy peddling that same conspiracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY: I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election. Russia was very aggressive, and they're much more sophisticated. But
the fact that Russia was so aggressive does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. If any of that confused you, it may be because this is not the first time Senator Kennedy has muddied the waters of the 2016 election interference.
Here he is denying Russia's hacking of the DNC on FOX News, then walking back the same comment here on CNN the next day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Was it Russia or Ukraine?
KENNEDY: I don't know. Nor do you. Nor do any of us.
WALLACE: The entire intelligence community says it was Russia.
KENNEDY: Right. But it could also be Ukraine.
I was wrong. The only evidence I have -- and I think it's overwhelming -- is that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So why are these statements from Senator Kennedy, a sitting member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, so dangerously misleading? I laid out the facts on Twitter. So let's start from the beginning.
First of all, Russia interfered in the 2016 election to a degree no other country ever has. Their effort, turbocharged by cyber-warfare, with the intention, not just of disrupting the campaign, but tipping the result. That assessment is backed up, not only by U.S. intelligence but also the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee. This is a fact, not an opinion.
Also a fact: U.S. intel agencies are aware of a year's-long campaign by Russia to shift blame away from themselves and onto Ukraine. That's what former National Security Council Russia expert Fiona Hill said in public testimony. According to our reporting, senators were even briefed on Russia's campaign to blame Ukraine for meddling in 2016 just this fall, though Senator Kennedy says he did not attend that briefing.
Now, how can we be sure about Russian interference? Well, two of the Russian hacking groups, dubbed Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear were already well known to U.S. intelligence agencies. They had already hacked the State Department email system in 2014 and 2015. They used similar patterns in 2016, when a former NSA deputy director told me they didn't even bother to hide.
We also know that Russia's intent was to hurt Clinton's bid for the White House and help the Trump campaign. The key judgments in a 2017 DNI assessment, it says, quote, "We also assessed Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump's election chances when possible by discredited Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him."
You need some evidence? Just minutes after the release of Trump's infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, that's when Russia began leaking the first emails of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. Within the hour.
Now, the president has claimed, falsely, that Ukraine may have taken the DNC server. No one, not U.S. intelligence, not the Senate Intel Committee or private security firms Crowd Strike or Fire Eye, believes this. And by the way, that server, it still sits in the basement of DNC headquarters.
And yet, it is conspiracy theories like this that the president and the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee continue to peddle.
GOP lawmakers like Senator Kennedy are attempting now to launder those lies by claiming that things such as a 2016 op-ed written by a Ukrainian official critical of President Trump are the evidence of Ukrainian election interference. That is simply not comparable to Russia intentionally meddling in our elections. And by the way, it's not the basis of Trump's conspiracy theories.
So where does that leave us? Where does that leave our country? Russia, you should know, is already interfering in the 2020 election by, among many other things, amplifying comments of Republican lawmakers like Kennedy's, pushing claims of Ukrainian, not Russian, interference.
So why should Senator Kennedy's conflicting comments trouble all of us? I've spoken to several current former intelligence officials, law enforcement officials, as well as lawmakers in both parties. I asked them if the 2020 election is safe from interference by Russia and others today. And all of them have said no.
CAMEROTA: Jim, thank you very much for all of that explanation and explaining how we got here. We will dive more into Senator Kennedy's comments and what he says he's basing them on, coming up in the program.
Meanwhile, the president heads to London this morning for the NATO summit as some key allies give him the cold shoulder. So we have a preview of what to expect, next.