Return to Transcripts main page


Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) is Interviewed on Impeachment; Trump Mocks Teen Activist; Arrest in College Student's Murder; Trump Signs Off on China Deal. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 13, 2019 - 08:30   ET



REP. BEN RAY LUJAN (D-NM): We continue to see more people across the country learning more about the case. And I think that's why it's important that this vote, which is an important vote, using a tool that was included in the Constitution by our founders, to hold the president of the United States of America accountable, ensuring that no one is above the law.

Look, it doesn't surprise me that there are many President Trump supporters across the country that have maybe the same perspective as Doug Collins. Recently we saw a poll that 53 percent or 54 percent of polled Republicans say that Donald Trump is a better president than Abraham Lincoln. That really surprised me and shocked me.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: And it shows you where the country is right now, particularly the Republican Party.

But we know there are enough votes today and it's going to move towards a vote next week in the House. There have been two defections. We know that there were two Democratic congressmen before even these hearings that said that they would not vote in favor of impeachment.

Do you know of any others that will vote that way as well?

LUJAN: I'm not sure of any others. What I am confident is that today those articles will pass the Judiciary Committee. Anyone that watched the debate and the conversation last night and read about it this morning I think would share that same conclusion. And I'm also confident that next week when articles are put on the House floor that they would also pass and that they will be sent over to the U.S. Senate.

The question that I have is, how many of my Republican colleagues will use this weekend to review the articles, go back and review all of the documents. The call notes. The very call notes that were released by President Donald Trump, where the president said he was asking for a political favor.

GOLODRYGA: I think we know where they stand. The question is where do some of your more moderate constituents and colleagues stand as well? Are they nervous about losing their jobs next year if, in fact, they do vote for impeachment? And has Nancy Pelosi factored that in when she says that people should vote their conscience?

LUJAN: Well, look, I think the speaker has been very clear about the process and that this is an historical vote and a monumental vote and that members should and must vote their conscience as well. There are two colleagues that have come forward to say that they are not inclined to be supportive. But, again, I'm confident that the numbers are there, including recent posts by a few of our colleagues. I believe Conor Lamb --


LUJAN: Just last night also showed the courage --

GOLODRYGA: I think he's in favor.

LUJAN: And the importance of coming forward, after he took the time to review the facts of the case. And that's what I'm hoping that my colleagues will do, Democrats and Republicans, over the next few days.

GOLODRYGA: Congressman, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you so much for coming in. We appreciate it.

LUJAN: Thanks for having me.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, what's worse than a 73-year-old old man yelling at a 16-year-old young woman? When that 73-year-old is the president of the United States.

GOLODRYGA: That's pretty bad.

BERMAN: What got the president so angry about a magazine cover, next.



BERMAN: So you want the president of the United States to be really, really mad at you? Just beat him out for a magazine cover.

John Avlon here with a "Reality Check.



So the president of the United States attacked a kid on Twitter. And we shouldn't have to remind you that that isn't remotely normal or presidential or kind. But it may also be envious because it's not the first time trump's targeted 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who just beat out Trump to become "Time's" Person of the Year. Now, it's an honor the president's always been obsessed with. And when

"Time" wouldn't put him on its cover before he became president, he hung this fake cover at his golf properties and his campaign just did it again for fundraising and trolling purposes.

But Trump's not the only one that can't quit thinking about Greta. Ever since her plea for the planet at the United Nations, the interwebs have had Greta on the brain from this amazing Greta Thunberg death metal remix --




AVLON: I love that.

To this satirical Greta Thunberg help line.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're a grown adult who needs to yell at a child for some reason, the Greta Thunberg help line is here to tolerate you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's making the end of the world sound like it's the end of the world.


AVLON: Exactly. Yes, everyone's talking about Greta, except for the folks who usually scream bloody murder whenever a kid gets dragged into a grownup debate. Like when a law professor tried explaining the Constitution to lawmakers like this.


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


AVLON: OK, that may have been ill-advised. Presidents' kids should be off limits. But it's a pun, people. And the collective conservative pearl clutching was really about playing the victim to distract from what the professor was saying.

When it comes to social media, perhaps the president should listen more to his own wife, who once said, when children learn positive online behavior, social media can be used in productive ways. It can affect positive change. They must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.

Here's a crazy idea, maybe the president should try to lead by example, or have a plan to solve the climate crisis rather than attacking a kid who cares enough to stand up and speak out.


And that's your "Reality Check."

GOLODRYGA: You know, I remember the vice president speaking out right away when that law professor mentioned Barron Trump's name. I guess we shouldn't wait for him to speak out in defense of Greta as well.

BERMAN: Yes. Look, what the president did is small and cruel.


BERMAN: You know, there's no other way to say it.

John Avlon, thank you very much.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you.

Well, and speaking of first ladies, former First Lady Michelle Obama weighed in on all of this, tweeting, at Greta Thunberg, don't let anyone dim your light and know that millions of people are cheering you on.

It's unbelievable that we even have to talk about this, but that was a nice message from the former first lady.

Well, this gift-giving season, we want to show you how you can help our 2019 top 10 CNN heroes doubly. For a limited time, your donations will be matched dollar for dollar. And our Anderson Cooper explains how.



Each of this year's top ten CNN heroes proves that one person really can make a difference. And again this year we're making it easy for you to support their great work. Just go to and click "donate" beneath any 2019 top ten CNN hero to make a direct contribution to that hero's fundraiser. You'll receive an email confirming your donation, which is tax deductible in the United States. No matter the amount, you can make a big difference in helping our heroes continue their life-changing work.

And right now, through January 2nd, your donations will be matched dollar for dollar up to a total of $50,000 for each of this year's honorees. CNN is proud to offer you this simple way to support each cause and celebrate all these everyday people changing the world. You can donate from your laptop, your tablet or your phone. Just go to Your donation in any amount will help them help others.



GOLODRYGA: That is really a great opportunity. Don't miss out.

And if you know somebody great who deserves to be a CNN hero, tell us about them. Nominations for 2020 are open and we're waiting to hear from you. Go to to share their story right now.

BERMAN: All right, President Trump has signed off on a tentative trade agreement with China, but who got the best of this deal? We'll discuss, next.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

GOLODRYGA: And we want to bring you some rather disturbing breaking news right now.

CNN has just confirmed that an arrest has been made in the murder of a Barnard College student right here in New York City. The victim is 18- year-old freshman Tessa Majors.

And CNN's Alexandra Field joins us now with the breaking details.

What do we know?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a major break here that we're talking about this morning, Bianna, in the death of Tessa Majors. Police now saying -- well, a source telling CNN that police have arrested a 13-year-old male in connection with the death of Tessa Majors. They say they found him in a lobby in the -- in a building within the neighborhood that they had been looking in not far from where Tessa Majors was killed. He apparently seemed to fit the description of what they were looking for based on what he was wearing.

Apparently he was found with a knife on his person. This source is saying that he admitted to the attempted robbery and to the stabbing and also alluded to two other suspects. No update at this moment on the -- the search for those suspects or the connection of those possible suspects with this case.

But, certainly, this is a major break for police who have stepped up patrols near Morningside Park after the horrific killing of Tessa Majors that has led to such an outpouring of grief and shock for the Barnard College community and really for the New York City community at large, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: We know her father has been speaking out on this as well. But you just can't get over the shock when you hear that a 13-year-old suspect is now in custody. And, obviously, the key was finding this murder suspect. But to find a 13-year-old is just stunning.

BERMAN: Alexandra, the knife. Have they done any tests on the knife yet? Is there any confirmation that that knife was used in the attack? FIELD: No, not at this point. We'll certainly be waiting for that

forensic evidence to be coming in. And there's going to be a lot of police questioning that happens from this point forward.

Certainly, though, the fact that this young man appeared to match the description, that his clothing was indicative of the description that police were looking for, that's something. The fact that he was found with a knife on him, of course, critical to police. And this apparent confession that was made.

BERMAN: Right.

FIELD: We're going to have to hear a lot more about that. But at this point, this source saying that he did, in fact, admit to the stabbing and to the robbery attempt. This is going to open up a lot of questions for police. But an important, important development. We will have to wait for the forensics on this.

BERMAN: All right, please keep us posted as to all these developments.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alexandra Field, thanks very much.

All right, shifting gears here.

President Trump has signed off on an initial trade agreement with China. The deal would delay new tariffs, it cuts some existing tariffs in exchange for a Chinese promise to buy American goods.

Joining us now, Rana Foroohar, CNN global economic analyst and global business columnist and associate editor of "The Financial Times," and Catherine Rampell, "Washington Post" opinion columnist and CNN political commentator.

Let me just stipulate that until it is actually announced out loud, it's not real yet.

GOLODRYGA: We've been here before, right?

BERMAN: It's not done until it's done.

If it is done the way that we're told it is, the first phase agreement, cutting something tariffs, not imposing others in exchange for some purposes of farm goods and some other vague promises, how much of a deal is this really?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not really much of a deal at all. Basically what this amounts to is, we have taxed ourselves tens of billions of dollars so that we could get to basically where we were before we taxed ourselves tens of billions of dollars.


Look, there are some major structural issues that we do want China to reform on. We want China to become a more market-based economy. We want it to have more IP protections. We want it to have fewer subsidies for its state-owned businesses, et cetera. But those are pretty difficult intractable problems and none of what we know so far about what this deal would do addresses any of them.

GOLODRYGA: Which is, Rana, why maybe the market, it's like they have Groundhogs Day, that they -- they've been here before and yet they like this news, right?


GOLODRYGA: They jumped when this deal or potential deal was announced. Others, however, including those in the president's own party, seem to be a little reluctant.


GOLODRYGA: And they're skeptical.


GOLODRYGA: And I want to read you a tweet that Marco Rubio tweeted. And he said, White House should consider the risk that a near-term deal with China would give away the tariff leverage needed for a broader agreement on the issues that matter the most, such as subsidies, domestic firms, forced tech transfers and blocking U.S. firms access to key sectors.

A lot of the issues that Catherine just touched upon.

FOROOHAR: A hundred percent. And the fact that Rubio is saying that actually reflects something important, which is that there's a consensus building actually on both the right and the left. He's not so different from Elizabeth Warren in terms of what he would say about China. I mean there is a feeling -- and China's been telling us for years they want to be independent of U.S. technology. They want to have their own ecosystem.

Frankly, I've been going there for 20 years. I can't believe that we haven't worried about this more until this point. I think U.S. multinationals and the administration for many years, not just the Trump administration but those before, have been, you know, playing it quarter by quarter with China and saying, let's just try and grow a little more before the spigots are turned off, before we get to this point that we all knew we were coming to where there are -- there are going to be splinterings, I think, between those two economic ecosystems, the U.S. and China.

BERMAN: In addition to the promise of the $50 billion of agricultural purposes, apparently there are some vague promises about protections for intellectual property, also for allowing U.S. financial firms in there, also perhaps for transparency on currency.

Why aren't you excited about these promises?

RAMPELL: I think we have to actually see what's in the deal, which, as we have discussed, does not yet exist or at least has not -- has not been formally announced. We haven't seen whatever the language is. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised and there will be some enforceable provisions, but based on what we have seen so far and how desperate this administration seems to be to boost markets because there has been lingering uncertainty, I am skeptical that really they have gotten very much in the way of concessions here. Particularly since, a, this is phase one, right? There's going to be supposedly a phase two in which the more difficult stuff will be negotiated. And, b, China doesn't really have much of an incentive at this point to make major concessions because, look, Trump has not been known to keep his word on other trade deals. He may be out of office in less than -- or maybe elected -- voted out of office in less than a year, so why would they make those very difficult concessions at this point.

FOROOHAR: And they're being very clear. I mean the Chinese actually don't play these sorts of, you know, Twitter games. They've been very clear. They want to have all U.S. software out of government offices by 2022. They want to be completely independent of western technology by 2025. They've been perfectly clear about their intentions. It's the U.S. that's kind of trying to play both sides of the field.

What we need to be doing is figuring out how to really, you know, ring fence our own best technologies, innovate here and, you know, start to move ahead with our own ecosystem.

GOLODRYGA: And no doubt that this is having an impact on the Chinese economy and Xi Jinping is feeling this as well and pressure from his own constituents, but he doesn't have an election next year to worry about.

FOROOHAR: Right. That's right.

GOLODRYGA: And I'm wondering how this --

FOROOHAR: The benefits of autocracy.


And I'm wondering how this squares with the president's excitement yesterday versus what he said I believe just a few weeks ago that he may not make a deal. And it may be best to just do something after, in his words, he's re-elected.

FOROOHAR: Well, you never know what he's going to do. You know, there -- there's emotion in play with the president, particularly around China.

I do think he's -- I mean I would hope for his own -- if I were him, I'd be careful leading up to 2020, to November 2020, about really rocking the boat. You know, the markets go up and down based on the latest good news about China or bad news about China. And that's all algorithmic trading, by the way. That has nothing to do with common sense. That software program is just reacting to good or bad news.

But if you start to see markets really -- really getting what is true, which is that we are moving to two separate worlds. GOLODRYGA: Yes.

FOROOHAR: The U.S. is going to have its own tech environment and the -- China is going to have its own economy and I think that those things are not going to reset back to the 1990s, then you could really see a correction, I think.

BERMAN: I've got to say, the side of the world that the U.S. is on just changed dramatically overnight because of a different country, the United Kingdom, which Boris Johnson overwhelmingly won election there, the conservative party going in, which means Brexit is now inevitable, I would think.


I mean it's going to happen and soon.

What's the impact on the world economy and the United States, Catherine?

RAMPELL: I think that is yet to be seen, in part because we don't -- we still don't know what the terms of the relationship between the U.K. and the EU will be.

Yes, there will be a divorce. Boris Johnson made that clear. There will be a divorce between the U.K. and the EU, but the terms of that divorce, what trade looks like, what trade looks like between the U.K. and other countries now that it is no longer party to the trade -- or will be no longer party to the trade deals that the EU has negotiated, a lot of that still remains up in the air.

And to what extent -- you know, Trump has said that there will be a very favorable deal with the U.K. Who knows what that means. But it looks like it's going to be at the very least very damaging for the U.K. economy. The collateral damage on the EU and elsewhere is yet to be measured.

GOLODRYGA: Boris Johnson's getting what he wanted.

BERMAN: Catherine Rampell, Rana Foroohar, great to have you here.

GOLODRYGA: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thanks very much.


BERMAN: A big morning. An historic morning ahead. We are minutes, maybe an hour or so, away from a vote in the House Judiciary Committee approving articles of impeachment. CNN will bring you the latest, next.