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U.K. Election and Democrats in 2020; House to Vote on Impeachment Today; Jackson Runs into the NFL Record Book; Warren Targets Rivals; Trump Mocks Climate Activist. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired December 13, 2019 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00]

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's about the idea that candidates matter. And Jeremy Corbyn was a deeply unpopular candidate, both from taking his party too far to the left, tolerating anti- Semitism within the Labour Party, not -- not trying to root it out. Whether he was anti-Semitic or not is, you know, is only -- only he knows. So politics and -- and the candidate, I don't think there's a move toward the far right. We've had elections in the last few months in Canada, Spain, Denmark that have elected center left. Politics do matter.

So bringing it back to the U.S., if -- if -- if Britain's electorate tells us something and presages something it's, we may not want the structural change, the radical change that candidates like Sanders and Warren have been promoting.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the things that happens during British selections is that we all of a sudden become experts over here in the United States on everything it means. But I will say this, which is that traditionally labor seats in industrial areas flipped when conservative in this election overnight, Abby. And when you look at that and compare it to the United States, what people see is a comparison to the rust belt and what happened in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Traditionally blue color union workers flirting with the Republican Party. It was Donald Trump in 2016 and it might be again in 2020.

How much of a risk is that for Democrats if they lose their, you know, traditional labor backers?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I do think there's a -- I mean I am not an expert at British politics by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think there's a limit to how closely we can tie these connections, in part because, you know, when we're talking about radical politics, in this case the sort of pushing against Brexit was what -- what the Labour Party was doing. You know, the conservative party wanted Brexit. Brexit is the -- is the -- probably the most radical thing you could do in British politics right now. And it's been so controversial and people are so tired of it that they seem to have decided that they want to just get it done, rip the Band-Aid off.

So, in some ways, you know, I do think there are some limits here because, you know, when we're talking about Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, they are the ones talking about structural change. They're the ones asking to up end systems like health care and college tuition. And I don't know that this is an exact parallel on that case.

But I do think one of the things that Joe mentioned is important because candidates do matter on the other side too. Boris Johnson is an incredibly controversial figure. He is -- was -- is -- was sort of, for a long time, seen as a little bit of a gadfly. And then he managed to get the biggest conservative victory since Margaret Thatcher. So for the -- for Democrats, a cautionary tale would be to not discount the idea that despite how controversial Donald Trump is, some voters might be able to look past that and vote for him.

And beyond that, as Trump is promising to finish up the job on trade, just like Boris Johnson promised to finish up the job on Brexit, the idea that there -- that there needs to be continuity can be very powerful for him. And Democrats need to be careful about making sure they have a plan for combatting that as they go into 2020.

BERMAN: Abby, Joe, thank you very much.

So much to discuss this morning after a night that was really incredible. Not just in Britain, but also in the United States. The impeachment vote in the House Judiciary Committee is now in overtime. We are waiting for those votes to come later this morning. We'll give you the very latest, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:37:56]

BERMAN: The House Judiciary Committee is now in overtime with a key vote on the articles of impeachment set for this morning. It was supposed to happen last night, but after 14 hours of the debate, the Democratic chair, Jerry Nadler, said enough. He wanted the vote to happen today in the light of day.

Joining us now is CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "SMERCONISH."

And, Michael, one of the reasons it went on so long yesterday is that Republicans, they did try to drag it out using every parliamentary procedure in the book, offering as many amendments as they could, and also, frankly, trying to drag Hunter Biden through the mud, sometimes talking about the facts of his work in Ukraine, other times really getting quite personal.

And I want you to watch this exchange, because this is when Democrats basically said they had enough. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): It's a little hard to believe that Burisma hired Hunter Biden to resolve their international disputes when he could not resolve his own dispute with Hertz Rental Car over leaving cocaine and a crack pipe in the car. REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-LA): The pot calling the kettle black is not

something that we should do. I don't know -- I don't know what members, if any, have had any problems with substance abuse, been busted in DUI. I don't know. But if I did, I wouldn't raise it against anyone on this committee. I don't think it's proper.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That was Congressman Hank Johnson.

What he seemed to be referring to there, Michael, was Matt Gaetz run- in with the law and the past, and a very checkered record when it comes to driving infractions there. That's the pot and the kettle issue in that case.

And what does it have to do -- my question is -- with the charges against this president, which is inviting a foreign government to intervene in the U.S. election?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the tone that you just referenced and the clip that you just showed maybe is evidence as to why the needle has not moved from this process. Marquette University, brand new survey in Wisconsin, showing 52 percent not supportive of impeachment, 40 percent who are. The significance is that those are pretty much the same numbers that Marquette has been drawing in previous polling.

And I think the reason why, John, is that many Americans are looking at this as just a continuation of the partisanship and the polarization and really not delving into the facts. Just seeing on whose side is each person arguing and going accordingly.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: And yet, Michael, Chairman Nadler chose not to hold votes last night at midnight and wait until this morning, until 10:00 a.m., when they're going to be reconvening so that more Americans can have an opportunity to watch this historic moment.

Is he delusional at this point as to thinking that perhaps Republicans may have a change of heart? What is the point in having this play out at 10:00 a.m. versus midnight given how polarized we already are?

SMERCONISH: I don't think it's to win the hearts and minds of Republicans because that ship has sailed. That's not going to happen here, nor apparently given Mitch McConnell's comments in the Senate either. I think more it's a protective strategy at this point for moderate Democrats and trying to give them some -- some backbone, some courage to stay with their team in this regard.

I mean there's a really interesting question here as to why the needle hasn't moved. I think it's the accentuated partisanship that we have. I also think that there's been a lack of an ah-ha moment. You know, that one John Dean sequence that we can point to and say to the American people, herein lies the story you need to follow.

John Berman, I think you did an excellent job in, like, one sentence in laying out what this is all about earlier in the program today. But, you know, there are a lot of names, there are a lot of dates. They're foreign names. And I think it's very hard for Americans to follow this story.

BERMAN: It may be that the ah-ha moment came at the very beginning with the release of the rough notes from the call where clearly the president asks the leader of Ukraine for his help in investigating the Bidens.

GOLODRYGA: And where you initially had at least some Republicans saying that that was not OK.

BERMAN: Right. Right. I mean that happened. That happened. We'd seen the transcript. Then the president, on the South Lawn, asked what he meant by it, he said, I want Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Part of the issue is it came out so fast and so clearly, maybe it wasn't enough for some of the Republicans who will vote on this.

I'm interested when this moves to the Senate, Michael, and you've been watching that very closely. It now appears that it's leaning toward no witnesses being called. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may not have any witnesses after both sides present their opening statements. I wonder why you think that is, because someone could look at that and say, well, it may be that more information from more people doesn't actually help. More facts don't help the president's defense.

SMERCONISH: The Constitution is essentially silent on what will now transpire. It says that the chief justice of the Supreme Court is going to preside over this trial. But it doesn't tell you what the trial will consist of other than a two-third vote being required. There are about ten pages, single spaced, of rules, but they speak more to things like, what time should the chief justice show up, as opposed to, should the federal rules of evidence apply or even what's the burden of proof.

My point is, it's kind of a blank canvas. McConnell is in the driver's seat in terms of how it will be orchestrated. And I think you're absolutely right, that -- that if he asides (ph) to the wishes of Republican who say want to hear from Hunter Biden, then all of a sudden the flip side has got to be, where's John Bolton, where's Mick Mulvaney, where's Rudy Giuliani. And I don't think they want to go down that road. I think Republicans are happy with the record as it exists and they want to get it over with in a hurry.

GOLODRYGA: And you talk about having a quick -- a rather quick trial. That leads to the question of what happens next because you mentioned that Marquette law school poll where the majority of Americans do not believe the president should be impeached and removed. It also shows that the majority of Americans disapprove of how the president is handling his job right now. What does that tell you?

SMERCONISH: The numbers, I don't think, have really shifted all that much. He's been under water despite this economy. I mean let's factor that in. With this economy, you would expect an incumbent to probably have an approval rating that's in the high 50s. He's never gotten above water. It tells me that the numbers that existing today, I wouldn't be surprised if those are the numbers that exist three, six, and nine months from now because the -- everyone seems so entrenched and almost regardless of who his opponent will be.

BERMAN: Michael Smerconish, thank you so much for being with us this morning. And, everyone, be sure to watch "SMERCONISH" tomorrow morning at 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

By that time tomorrow, for just the fourth time in U.S. history, there will likely be approved articles of impeachment against the president of the United States.

[06:45:06]

GOLODRYGA: So you're saying he's going to have a lot to talk about.

BERMAN: Michael will have a lot to talk about and you will want to hear his take on all that tomorrow morning.

GOLODRYGA: All right. Well, something else a lot of people are talking about, why the president is mocking a 16-year-old climate activist who was named "Time" magazine's Person of the Year. Perhaps that's why. Jeanne Moos breaks down the feud.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: The Baltimore Ravens are really good. I mean they look unstoppable behind this record-setting performance by quarterback Lamar Jackson last night.

Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report," live from Philadelphia, the site of tomorrow's Army/Navy game.

Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, can't wait to talk about that in a second, John.

But how about Lamar Jackson? Go ahead and write him up for league MVP. It's like he's a video game player out there. I don't see anything that this 22-year-old cannot do.

He ran for 86 yards against the Jets last night and that broke Michael Vick's single season rushing record for a quarterback. It's only week 14, John. He's so good at passing too. It was the return of the Jackson five. Five touchdown passes in a game. He did that for the third time this season. That's more than all other quarterbacks in Ravens history combined. Baltimore wins their tenth straight and they have clinched their second straight AFC North title.

Now, as John mentioned, we are here in Philly for this year's Army/Navy game. President Donald Trump is expected to attend for the second year in a row. He's the tenth sitting U.S. president to attend this historic rivalry. Our 34th president, Dwight Eisenhower, had a great quote. He said the Army and Navy are the best of friends 364 and a half days out of the year. But on this one Saturday afternoon, we are the worst of enemies. Both coaches in this game agree.

[06:50:05] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF MONKEN, ARMY HEAD COACH: While they're here, while we're part of this rivalry, there is no brother against brother. It is -- it is hated rival against hated rival.

KEN NIUMATALOL, NAVY HEAD COACH: It's a great respect that both schools have for each other. We both want to beat each other in the worst way.

MONKEN: The loser feels this sense of anguish and defeat that's different than any other loss in college football.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WIRE: This game is a great tribute to the future defenders of our nation and it's said that it's the only college football game where everyone on the field is willing to die for everyone watching.

GOLODRYGA: Well said, Coy. What a game that's going to be. Thank you.

Well, Senator Elizabeth Warren is hoping to regain momentum by targeting her moderate Democratic rivals. Her biggest target, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who she jabbed in a main speech yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unlike some candidates for the Democratic nomination, I'm not betting my agenda on the naive hope that if Democrats adopt Republican critiques of progressive policies or make vague calls for unity, that somehow the wealthy and well connected will stand down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GOLODRYGA: Joining us now, CNN political correspondent MJ Lee, who has been on the campaign trail with Senator Warren, and CNN political commentator Aisha Moodie-Mills. She's a Democratic strategist.

MJ, let me start with you because my question is, is that a preview of what we're going to see play out next week at the next Democratic debate?

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's certainly a shift that we're seeing Elizabeth Warren make recently. And I think it's a recognition by her campaign, some of her supporters, that the way that she has been running her campaign may not get her through this next phase, right? Particularly after the entire Medicare for all saga.

There's no question that her political momentum has stalled. And I think there's definitely a recognition that she has to become a little bit more aggressive. I mean this entire campaign, this is a campaign and a candidate that have been incredibly sort of on message, putting out the plans. She has branded herself as this candidate with all of the plans. And I think the question that's been raised in recent weeks, as we've seen other candidates like a Pete Buttigieg rise in the polls is, is that actually enough? And I think we probably will see her at the next debate perhaps be a little bit more aggressive than she has been all of this year.

BERMAN: It wasn't interesting because it wasn't just Pete Buttigieg in this speech that she seemed to go after. There was this what seemed to be direct reference to former Vice President Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Unlike some Democrat -- some candidates for the Democratic nomination, I am not counting on Republican politicians having an epiphany and suddenly supporting the kinds of tax increases on the rich or big business accountability that they've opposed under Democratic presidents for a generation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So she's talking about Joe Biden there, Aisha. And Biden hit back and in a way almost welcomed the criticism. He said last night, he said, well, guys, if we can't unify the country, you all ought to go home now because nothing's going to happen except by executive order.

Biden, at least, if you look at the polls, seems to be having a bit of a moment here where if he was sagging, he seems to be rising again and at least not slipping. What do you see?

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, what I see is an Elizabeth Warren who is constantly on brand. She's not doing or saying anything particularly different than she's always said. They're in kind of -- we've got two ideological folds in the Democratic Party. The people who are, frankly, the progressives who think that corruption in government is bad, who think that the powerful, the wealthy, the rich, they have essentially had too much power in our society. And then there are people who want business as usual. And I think that she is constantly creating a space where we can reflect on that and talk about that.

Now she's just naming names and actually talking about the people that she's competing against who are in bed with the folks that she doesn't believe should be controlling government. And the point that is constantly being made that she makes is like, look, whether it be Pete Buttigieg, whether it be Joe Biden, whomever is in these rooms with these major donors, that she's asking the question, who are you going to be beholden to when you are president of the United States? Is it going to be a couple of wealthy guys that gave you some checks, or is it going to be the American people. And that is just fundamentally the message.

And I -- and I believe that, you know, polls, neither here nor there, when you're with Elizabeth Warren on the ground, what you see is her drawing large crowds because people believe in her message. And it's been extremely consistent and -- throughout the entire campaign. LEE: I think it really is about a difference in style of governing.

You know, the Elizabeth Warrens and the Bernie Sanders of the world say words like big structural change, right? They say that the way that Washington has been working for many years, that that's not working for the average American. Whereas for somebody like Joe Biden, I think he strikes a note of sort of being more realistic and understanding that not a lot of things often happen in Washington, that the big changes that some of these candidates are talking about are not always realistic.

[06:55:08]

I will tell you, though, when you travel out to the country and go to these political events, the one thing that has Democratic voters nervous, even if they are excited about these big ideas is that they're not sure that a candidate that has such big ideas can necessarily beat Donald Trump by appealing to sort of the moderates and the centrist Democrats that they really do need to appeal to.

GOLODRYGA: And one candidate who we're hearing more from on the airwaves, who we won't see next week at the debate is Michael Bloomberg. Elizabeth Warren had some comments about him that we want to play for you right now too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am no fan of Michael Bloomberg. That has been made clear through the years. But here's the deal. Michael Bloomberg built a successful business. And I am -- I want to honor that.

A wealth tax on millionaires and billionaires isn't about being punitive or denigrating success. It's about laying the foundation for future successes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GOLODRYGA: And what that tells me is, this country is not afraid of electing a billionaire, right? Look, we just -- we have a billionaire in office right now.

MOODIE-MILLS: So he claims.

BERMAN: So he claims, yes.

MOODIE-MILLS: We don't know that.

GOLODRYGA: Michael Bloomberg is much more of a billionaire, right? Ten times more if not four times more that. Let me ask you what people out there that you're talking to on the campaign trail are saying about him. We know that he's waiting for Super Tuesday right now, but what are you hearing from voters in terms of how they view Michael Bloomberg as a candidate?

LEE: Well, voters that are inclined to turn out to an Elizabeth Warren event, they like those lines in her speeches, right, when she really gets going, bashing the billionaires and talking about sort of corruption and how Washington is driven by power and money and special interests. That gets people worked up. And I think Michael Bloomberg's entry into the race has actually been pretty beneficial to somebody like Elizabeth Warren because, as you said, it helps her be on brand.

BERMAN: I'll just say, the one name that we didn't mention nearly enough in this segment is Bernie Sanders.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. He's still in it. Yes.

BERMAN: And that may be Elizabeth Warren's real issue. No matter how much she talks about Biden and Buttigieg, those Bernie Sanders voters, very loyal.

MJ, Aisha, thank you very much for being with us this morning.

LEE: Thanks.

BERMAN: President Trump is choosing to mock a 16-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg, in a tweet. This was after she was named "Time's" Person of the Year over him. That's what seemed to get to her. But Greta fought back.

CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's one thing for a comedian to joke about 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg being named "Time's" Person of the Year.

SETH MEYERS, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS": When asked what she thought about "Time," Thunberg said we probably have about five, six years left.

MOOS: It's another thing when President Trump goes after her.

JOY BEHAR, HOST, "THE VIEW": This is his tweet. So ridiculous. Greta must work on her anger management problem. Ah, hello, look in the mirror.

MOOS: The president continued, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend. Chill, Greta, chill.

Reaction wasn't chill.

What kind of a president bullies a teenager thundered Joe Biden. One cartoon pictured them at Greta and Regreta.

Thunberg herself responded by changing her Twitter bio to a teenager working on her anger management problem, currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend.

One fan compared Greta Thunberg in a war of wits with Donald J. Trump to shooting fish in a barrel.

After her September climate speech in the U.N. --

GRETA THUNBERG: You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty word.

MOOS: President Trump tweeted, she seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.

She then made that her bio.

Just the other day, Melania Trump went after an impeachment expert for mentioning the Trumps' 13-year-old.

PROFESSOR PAMELA KARLAN: So while the president can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron.

MOOS: Now so many critics are noting the irony of President Trump mocking a teen, that the first lady's anti-bullying campaign Be Best started to trend.

MOOS (on camera): Things came to a head when President Trump's campaign war room literally used his head, leaving critics shaking their heads.

MOOS (voice over): Over this, the president's head photoshopped on Greta's body.

President Trump used to like to ask the question --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Would you rather see Person of the Year? Man of the Year?

MOOS: Just call Greta man eater of the year.

Jeanne Moos, CNN. New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GOLODRYGA: I think we can agree that that was beneath the president to go after a minor, right, especially --

BERMAN: Wasn't beneath this president. Look, there's nothing funny about criticizing a 16-year-old girl who has Asperger's --

GOLODRYGA: Or any 16-year-old

END