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Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) Discusses President Trump And His GOP Allies Plans For Senate Impeachment Trial; Beyond The Call Of Duty: Border Agent Honored For Confronting Poway Synagogue Shooter; Four Killed After Police Chase Ends In Shootout. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 6, 2019 - 07:30   ET



SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): And that's an admission right there.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, if this does come up in the negotiations, right? So as this is being worked out in terms of who will potentially testify --


HILL: -- if you're told or if, you know, Chuck Schumer's told OK, fine, we'll bring -- we'll give you Mulvaney -- we want to hear from Joe and Hunter Biden -- what do you think the response will be?

HIRONO: Well, that continues the whole conspiracy theory that the Republicans keep pushing, that's been debunked.

You know, you asked earlier that is this going to waylay the focus --

HILL: Yes.

HIRONO: -- of the impeachment proceedings. Yes, that will. So this whole idea of the conspiracy -- pushing forth the conspiracy theory -- you know, that's not what the impeachment proceeding should be all about.

You know, one thing the Republicans should do -- which they haven't done this -- they ought to focus on what I call "the this" -- "the this" being what the president did to shake down the president of another country.

They're just always focused on what about that, what about that, what about that. But they're now focused on what about this? What did the president do?

HILL: Is there -- but is there a conversation about that in your private conversations, right, and how many -- how many conversations are you having behind the scenes with Republicans? And are they focused on the facts more or are they still talking more about the process, as we hear Republicans --

HIRONO: They're not focused on the facts because they can't focus on the facts. So this is why I would like the president, if he has a defense to make, come forward and make your defense because they're continuing to talk about the process -- oh, it's behind closed doors or can we have open hearings.

And they just keep coming up with everything except focusing on what I call "the this," which is, is it OK for the president of our country to shake down the president of another country for his political ends and not for our national security? Is that OK?

They've never been able to answer that. And you know what, when they do, maybe their answer is going to be so what, because that's what Mulvaney said. So what, he did it. So what?

HILL: Before we let you go, this is a -- this is a very --

HIRONO: That's not OK.

HILL: This is a very tight window, obviously --


HILL: -- moving into not just the end of the year and the holiday season, but we're staring down 2020 --


HILL: -- and primaries in Iowa to start with -- the caucus.

Does that concern you at all -- this timetable?

HIRONO: The way I look at it is, it is what it is. The impeachment proceeding is a constitutional process. We have a constitutional responsibility to bring all of this information and evidence before the public. So the political considerations, political timeframes, that's not what the constitutional responsibility that we have is all about.

HILL: Senator, good to have you in the studio with us today.

HIRONO: Aloha --

HILL: Thank you.

HIRONO -- and happy holidays.

HILL: Happy holidays to you, too. You're going to be very busy.


HILL: I think we both will be, actually.

HIRONO: Just a tad.

HILL: Yes, thank you.

The clock, John, is ticking and I know you've got more on that. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, indeed, the clock is ticking for the White House to decide whether it will take part in the impeachment hearing -- the final impeachment hearings in the House. Will their strategy of stonewalling change anytime soon? That's next.



BERMAN: All right. This morning, House Democrats are working to finalize articles of impeachment. These are the official charges against the President of the United States for pushing a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent.

We've talked a lot this morning about the risks for Democrats in pursuing this, but what about the political risks for Republicans these days?

Joining me now, two Pennsylvania Republicans. Charlie Dent, a former congressman and a CNN political commentator, and Rick Santorum, former senator and CNN senior political commentator. Thank you both for being here.

I have to say, I'm nervous for Pennsylvania. If you're both here, who is looking after the Keystone State?

Look, we have talked about the risks for Democrats here, which are plentiful, right? But I think it's naive to suggest that Republicans don't face risks as well in this process, Charlie. What do you see those as being?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, SENIOR POLICY ADVISER, DLA PIPER: Well, the risk for impeachment for Republicans, I think are more likely for Senate Republicans, to be perfectly honest. I think those swing state Republicans from Maine, Colorado, Arizona, Iowa, and North Carolina are at great risk. I mean, that's who I think is most vulnerable of all.

Democrats -- certainly, those swing state -- those swing district House Democrats are exposed to real risks during this impeachment process, but Senate Republicans also have an exposure.

BERMAN: Go ahead.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (R) FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I would just say that I think it depends how they play it.

I think that the Trump narrative, which is this was a perfect call and nothing wrong, and everything is completely a Democratic charade and farce -- if you're -- if you're in a tough state like Susan Collins in Maine or Cory Booker -- Cory Booker? Cory Gardner --

BERMAN: Cory Gardner.

SANTORUM: Sorry about that, Cory Booker on the mind -- then you have to take a little different approach.

And the approach what I believe is -- it's almost what Jonathan Turley took at the impeachment hearing, which is clearly, what the president did was inappropriate.

You know, he shouldn't be saying those things to foreign leaders, but it's not -- it doesn't rise to the level of impeachment. And we shouldn't be replacing the president 10 months before an election for something that is of uncertain severity.

BERMAN: But you don't think -- you don't think Susan Collins, Cory Gardner can go out there saying it was a perfect phone call?

SANTORUM: I don't think it's a good idea to do that. Frankly, I don't think it's a good idea for a Republican to do that, generally.

I think that it's clear that people thought it was inappropriate. I also think people think these things go on all the time. The fact that they -- you know, you've got a transcript of presidents talking to other presidents --

BERMAN: No, they don't. You know they don't go on all the time.

SANTORUM: I think there are things that go on that are -- that may be impeachable all the time when presidents talk to other folks.

BERMAN: Yes, but go investigate the Bidens, talk to Rudy Giuliani --

SANTORUM: But it could be --

BERMAN: -- does -- that doesn't go --

SANTORUM: It could be --

BERMAN: Wait, have you ever seen any evidence in the history of America --

SANTORUM: But we don't --

BERMAN: -- of that going on?

SANTORUM: How often do we get presidential phone calls?

BERMAN: Have you seen -- have you seen any evidence of it ever?

SANTORUM: The answer -- the answer is how often do we see phone call transcripts between foreign leaders? And the answer is we don't.

BERMAN: Well, we see readouts of them.

SANTORUM: And there's a reason for -- there's a reason --

BERMAN: We see readouts of them quite a bit.

SANTORUM: Yes. Well, again, we see readouts that are unclassified readouts and they probably don't include some things that would be -- you know, they might be problematic.

BERMAN: Does this happen all the time, Charlie?

DENT: What, phone calls like the one the president had --



DENT: -- was on? No, of course, not.

I mean, look, usually those phone calls are scripted and the president clearly went off the script. I mean, you simply can't use your official office to ask a foreign leader to investigate your opponent.

SANTORUM: OK, but the only communications between leaders are not phone calls; they also meet.

DENT: Yes, but --

SANTORUM: And as we know, those meetings are not scripted necessarily, and there are all sorts of things that are said --

BERMAN: But, you --

SANTORUM: -- as in Barack Obama saying we can be more flexible after the election.

BERMAN: I understand, but do we all agree -- do we all agree sitting at this table -- do we all agree sitting at this table that the rough notes -- that the transcript of this call exists and we can agree what happened on that phone call? Yes?

DENT: Yes.

SANTORUM: No, I don't think we can because I don't think what the president did was ask for a favor. I think those are two different things.

BERMAN: Well, when he said I want you to do us a favor, though --


DENT: After the (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: -- that sounds to me like asking for a favor.

SANTORUM: Yes, he did and he turned --

BERMAN: What about asking for a favor doesn't sound like asking for a favor?

SANTORUM: Again, he talked -- he talked about CrowdStrike. And then -- and then the president talked -- the president of Ukraine talked. And then, who brought up Giuliani slash Biden, and that's when the president responded. So I think they are two different things. Candidly, I know people --

some people don't read it that way. I do. I don't think the president was asking for a favor. He said he --

BERMAN: He said I want you to do us a favor, though.

SANTORUM: He said us.

BERMAN: When someone asks me for a favor I typically think they want a favor.

SANTORUM: He said us and he talked about the country, and he said I'm concerned about corruption and how it might affect the U.S. elections, and he talked about 2016. That's what he talked about.

DENT: But, after -- but -- he asked for the favor after Zelensky made a request for the javelins -- the antitank weapons. He said, but I need a favor, though. That was the issue. So it was for the -- he was -- it was in the context --

SANTORUM: Investigating the 2016 elections.

BERMAN: Then said talk to Rudy Giuliani about the Bidens.

SANTORUM: After --

BERMAN: He said talk to Bill Barr about the Bidens.

SANTORUM: Yes, after -- again --

BERMAN: Zelensky didn't bring up Bill Barr.

SANTORUM: -- after Zelensky brought up the issue.

BERMAN: Well, he said talk to them about the Bidens. I want you --

SANTORUM: Again, but they're two different conversations. I mean, and two different points.

BERMAN: And they both happened, right?

SANTORUM: They both happened. And I think -- and I agree it's inappropriate.

BERMAN: OK, that's all I'm saying. You think it both happened? You think it both happened?

SANTORUM: I think it was inappropriate --


SANTORUM: -- to mention Biden, but I don't think he was --

DENT: But the larger --

SANTORUM: -- going to ask for a favor. DENT: But the larger point was then we heard all of these -- all of these witnesses say well, this was the deal. That, in fact, that was the deal.

SANTORUM: But none of them heard it from the president.

DENT: Well, these are the people responsible for implementing the Ukraine policy.

SANTORUM: Yes. You know what? I -

DENT: They were -- there were --

SANTORUM: Charlie, you've been -- you've been around long enough to know that staff members who work for you or for me or for presidents have their own idea of what you believe is happening and sometimes --

DENT: This is the ambassador.

SANTORUM: -- there are inconsistencies --

DENT: This is the ambassador.

SANTORUM: Yes. Well, it could be my chief of staff --

BERMAN: Senator?

SANTORUM: -- and if they're not talking to me that's a problem.

BERMAN: I do want to move on to another subject.

But I don't know if you saw the last segment with Elie Honig, but he played the sound from the President of the United States. So this isn't an aide.

This is the president, himself, who said I want the president of Ukraine. If I were the president of Ukraine, I would investigate the Bidens. There's no ambiguity there. The president said it out loud and then he asked China to do it. He just did.

SANTORUM: No, I agree --

BERMAN: He asked for it.

SANTORUM: -- but I don't think that's inappropriate.


SANTORUM: I don't think it's impeachable.

BERMAN: Onto -- that's -- so, to the political implications of it, it's interesting because Brad Parscale, who is running the Trump campaign, put out a tweet yesterday with a poll from Oklahoma -- Kendra Horn's district, who is a Democratic in Oklahoma. It was a Republican district there. He put out a poll number and it's a case -- to quote Andre the Giant

in "The Princess Bride" -- I'm not sure it means what he thinks it means in this case.

It shows that -- if we can pull it up so we can see here. It shows in this district favor and oppose impeachment, 45 percent favor impeachment; 52 percent oppose, right? So, again --

SANTORUM: In Oklahoma.

BERMAN: In Oklahoma. A majority oppose impeachment -- I get that. That's a big deal.

But this district was 12 percent in favor of the president -- Oklahoma, overall, is like a million and a half percent in favor of the president. So, if the spread is only seven points in that district I'm not sure that's so bad for the Democrats.

DENT: No, no -- her risk is more limited. I would have thought that Kendra Horn and the congressman from South Carolina, Cunningham, and the one from -- McIntosh in Utah might have some of the greatest exposure or greatest risk. But if that's the number, yes, there's risk but that's a manageable risk if you're a Democratic incumbent.

SANTORUM: Well, I think that's inconceivable. That's --

BERMAN: That's a Republican -- Brad Parscale --

SANTORUM: No, no, no, no -- that's "The Princess Bride."

DENT: Brad Parscale -- that's Oklahoma's "Princess Bride."

SANTORUM: I'm sorry -- you have the "Princess Bride."

BERMAN: Do you -- do you -- I'm sorry.

DENT: It's the Oklahoma City district, by the way.

BERMAN: You snuck a "Princess Bride" joke past me.

SANTORUM: I sucker punched you and you -- and you didn't pick it up at all. It's early, I know, but not for you -- it's not early.

BERMAN: Right.

SANTORUM: All right, now I would agree. I -- it isn't what it says it is. That -- if I were looking at that poll and I was a Republican, I wouldn't feel particularly good about that.

BERMAN: Interesting, right?

SANTORUM: Yes, I wouldn't.


BERMAN: Do you feel good about Rudy Giuliani? SANTORUM: Look, I think Rudy is out there right now -- I know people are questioning why he's in Ukraine. I think Rudy is out there right now trying to prove that he's right. And he's trying to gather the evidence because Rudy's been kicked to the curb by pretty much everybody because of what he's been doing here.

And I think he's convinced -- you know, I've talked to people around Rudy and they are convinced that their narrative is the correct narrative, contrary to what our Intelligence Community says.

DENT: Well, but he's the president's lawyer. Why is he over there? If I were the president I'd call my lawyer and say get back home. This isn't helping things.

I mean, I can't understand this. Did the president direct him to go over there?


BERMAN: He's being -- he's -- these are the weeks he's being impeached --

DENT: Yes.

BERMAN: -- and Rudy Giuliani is over there. Good look?

SANTORUM: I -- it's not a good look but I think it's Rudy feels -- again, I don't know for a fact but it just -- it's obvious to me that Rudy's trying to get to the bottom of this.

BERMAN: Is he a liability? My question is, is Rudy Giuliani a political liability for the president because I hear from Republicans and it doesn't take much to get them to say this -- he's not good. He is not helping President Trump.


SANTORUM: Well, I think, right now, him being in Ukraine is not a good look, number one. Number two, you know, the things that -- the people he's hung out with and the things he's done have been a negative to the president. So, the president has got to make that assessment.

DENT: Well, I don't think it's -- frankly, I don't think it's all about Rudy. I really think it is more about the president.

BERMAN: Right.

DENT: And at the end of the day, a lot of people are going to want to throw Rudy under the bus, but it's the president's conduct we're looking at here.

BERMAN: You have 30 seconds to make one last point that I think is important coming from you. There's a lot of talk about the trial in the Senate being a circus. You've been through this before. You actually don't -- you don't think anyone wants it to be a circus. SANTORUM: Look, senators care about the Senate. I mean, I know that the Senate is a mess and it's a lot worse than when I was there.

But I can tell you the overwhelming sentiment when I was involved with Tom Daschle and Trent Lott in figuring out how to do impeachment was what's in the best interest of the Senate and going forward, in setting precedent.

So, as tough as these guys are talking, I think there's a very big commitment to try -- internal commitment to try to get this done right.

BERMAN: Yes, even if the White House wants it a certain way.

SANTORUM: Well, if the White House wanted it a certain way 20 years ago --


SANTORUM: -- the House Republicans want it a certain way, there's going to be all sort of competing. But the senators will do what they believe is right.

BERMAN: All right. Charlie Dent, Rick Santorum, as you wish. Don't kiss me now.


BERMAN: I appreciate you both being here. Thank you very much.

A chaotic and dangerous police chase through Miami involving a hijacked UPS truck. In the end, two innocent people were killed in this huge shootout. Growing questions about the handling of this case, next.



HILL: The White House honoring border patrol agent Jonathan Morales for going beyond the call of duty. He ran toward a synagogue in Poway, California on his day off when a gunman opened fire.

CNN's Ryan Young has more.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Agent Morales' swift and selfless action helped saved many, many lives.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In front of law enforcement officers from around the world, President Donald Trump officer much-deserved praise for Jonathan Morales, a nearly-20-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol, for the day he jumped into action on his day off. JONATHAN MORALES, AGENT, U.S. BORDER PATROL: I was off-duty. I was on annual leave enjoying my time off. But I wasn't off duty as an officer -- as an agent sworn to protect my community and protect my people.

YOUNG (on camera): You heard the gunshots and then you ran where?

MORALES: I ran to the last location where I thought the shooter was. I heard the gunshots coming from the hallway into the synagogue. This guy is just going to kill us all if I don't intervene.

YOUNG (voice-over): In April, a gunman rocking the Chabad of Poway synagogue outside of San Diego, armed with an AR-15 style rifle and started shooting. Roughly 100 people, including children, were inside as the heavily-armed attacker wearing a tactical vest opened fire.

Agent Morales says he grabbed a gun and ran into a hallway full of chaos.

MORALES: It was upsetting to see that and that was part of my motivation -- you know, the look of fear in their eyes. I have to help these people. I have to limit the casualties, limit the injuries.

YOUNG (voice-over): With the help of his fellow worshippers, Morales moved to prevent the shooter from getting away.

MORALES: As soon as we -- he reached the sidewalk we kind of briefly locked eyes he kind of hesitated. He just kept going, running towards his getaway vehicle.

YOUNG (on camera): Now, not only are you engaging but you're opening fire on him.

MORALES: So everything kind of went into slow motion so I had to adjust my firing stance two times before I was able to take some safe, clear shots.

YOUNG (voice-over): Morales shot the tires of the shooter's car. The shooter, who was not hit, later turned himself in.

Sixty-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye was killed in the attack. Rabbi Goldstein lost his finger.

RABBI YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, CHABAD OF POWAY: It was a sight to see. It's like something unimaginable.

YOUNG (voice-over): The shooter shot another man in the leg --

NOYA DAHAN, 8-YEAR-OLD INJURED IN SHOOTING: This was like a pretty big piece.

YOUNG (voice-over): -- and a bullet fragment injured an 8-year-old girl in her leg.

DAHAN: He was aiming at all the kids. He was aiming where the kids were. It was terrifying, scary.

MORALES: Very close friends and people I consider family.

YOUNG (voice-over): Months later, as we sit on a bench in Poway, California dedicated to the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, Jonathan takes a deep breath, thinking of what was lost because of a man he considers a coward.

MORALES: We're unified and we're not going to allow some cowardly gunman stop our way of believing, way of living, way of worshipping and celebrating. We're going to continue to do what we have been for thousands of years as the Torah was given to us.

YOUNG (voice-over): Ryan Young, CNN, Poway, California.


BERMAN: What a story.

So, a UPS driver is dead after two robbery suspects hijacked his truck, leading police on a chase for more than 20 miles. It ended in a dramatic shootout.

The UPS driver was identified as 27-year-old Frank Ordonez. His brother says he died covering a route for someone who called out. Two robbery suspects and an innocent bystander were also killed in the shootout.


Police say the chase started when two men robbed a Miami-area jewelry store, then took the UPS truck on a high-speed chase with dozens of police officers in pursuit. The chase ended when the truck got stuck in traffic. The police and the suspects exchanged fire and drivers were caught in the crossfire.

No officers were seriously hurt.

HILL: Uber has released its first-ever safety report and that report talks about nearly 6,000 incidents of sexual assault over the last two years, including 464 rapes. The report also cites 19 deaths caused by physical assault.

It comes more than a year after a CNN investigation into sexual assault and abuse on the ride-hailing service. In an attempt to put those numbers into context, Uber says 99.9 percent of rides occur without incident.

It turns out that there are some other things happening in the world right now besides the president's impeachment, although that is understandably important to cover. But there's a lot more and a number of important things.

Lucky for us, John Avlon has been pouring over the headlines and joins us now with a reality check. Good morning.


So while you were busy watching all of this --


TRUMP: There was no quid pro quo.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): You couldn't have possibly actually digested the Adam Schiff report.


PROFESSOR PAMELA KARLAN, STANFORD LAW SCHOOL: I'm insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don't care about those facts.

SONDLAND: The answer is yes.

COLLINS: But the American people is really going to look at this and say, huh?


AVLON: Beyond all that, a lot of other things have been happening that are kind of a big deal.

Now, in the lamest corridors of Washington, they sometimes send out e- mails with the subject header ICYMI. This stands for In Case You Missed It. And you might have missed some stories that otherwise would be dominating headlines, like this.

It turns out the bailouts to the American agricultural industry have now hit some $28 billion. Now, that's more than twice what it costs to save the American auto industry during the Great Recession. You probably remember the Tea Party screaming bloody murder about that. Republican reaction this time, that's right, basically silence.

Now, you'll remember when President Trump launched his trade war with China. He claimed that tariffs from them would cover the American farmer.


TRUMP: And the farmers will be the biggest beneficiary -- watch.

Well, I'm very honored to have done this for you and I don't consider it a gift at all. It's not a gift.


AVLON: He's right, it isn't exactly a gift. It's become more of a boondoggle that's ballooned into what one writer has called the mother of all bailouts.

Now, at the same time, the Trump administration announced a policy shift that could take away food stamps from nearly 700,000 people -- announced right at the heart of the holiday season -- all to save a fraction of what Trump spent so that he doesn't suffer politically from the trade war he started.

It's not like he's aborting a deficit hawk either because of these cuts because the deficit, by the way, has jumped almost 50 percent since Trump took office. So much for the party of fiscal responsibility and free trade because also this week, Trump proposed new tariffs on France, Argentina, and Brazil. And basically, no one in the GOP said boo about it.

Here's another thing you might have missed. A judge was just confirmed who is vehemently against in vitro fertilization and other fertility treatments. Judge Sarah Pitlyk has said that surrogacy has grave effects on society, including diminished respect for motherhood that could even open the door to eugenic abortion.

So if you're among the one in six American couples who face fertility issues, this probably isn't the federal judge for you but hey, she's got a job that will last a lifetime.

And if that doesn't get your blood up, how about this. Your representatives voted this week on whether to keep Russia out of the G7. And you might remember they were only kicked out after they annexed Crimea from Ukraine by force. Donald Trump suggests we should bring Russia back in.

Now, the good news is the vote to keep the pressure on Putin was an overwhelming 339 to 71, but all 71 no votes, from Ralph Abraham to Lee Zeldin were from Republicans, while others seem to love them some Putin or are simply afraid to buck President Trump.

But it's more evidence that Donald Trump has taken a party that wanted to win the Cold War and has turned it into what can sometimes credibly be called a pro-Russia party.

Now, all of this is a reminder you've got to pay attention to everything in the Trump era, from the scandal du jour to the truly historic events, and the fine print as well because democracy isn't a spectator sport.

And that's your reality check.

BERMAN: A lot going on.

And I also think it's notable that Democrats, every public forum they get, go out of their way, John, to tell us what other legislation they have been passing and proposing while impeachment is going on. I mean, prescription drug prices, insider trading this week just on this show. It is interesting to see them push that.

AVLON: You've got to be able to do both and that's one reason it's not a do-nothing Congress, exactly. But we're not getting a lot done because the two parties can't seem to work together.

BERMAN: John Avlon, thank you very much.

And thank you to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, big moves on the impeachment front. We'll explain it all. NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump is almost certainly on a path to be impeached by the House.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We should introduce articles of impeachment. This is a very sad day for our country.