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Nearly 40 Million People Are Under Weather Advisories As A Major Storm System Is Moving Across The Country; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Talks About His Role In Impeachment Process; For the first time ever, All Top Beauty Pageant Winners Are Black Women. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 16, 2019 - 07:30   ET



JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's terrible for individuals that have to live under this kind of cloud constantly having the President. The President of the United States is saying these kinds of things, it's just inappropriate.

The Attorney General and Mr. Durham are doing an investigation and the President should just leave it to them after this, you know, the Inspector General has done his work, but the A.G. and Mr. Durham are doing their thing, the President should just step out of it and stop concluding things on the basis of no facts.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I was listening to the Inspector General testify last week and he was asked a very direct question about whether he saw any evidence that President Obama himself or someone in the White House ordered or influenced in any way this investigation and his answer was no, I saw no evidence of that in the documentation or the testimony.

Nevertheless, President Trump also wrote this weekend, "As bad as the I.G. report is for the F.B.I. and others and it is really bad, remember the I.G. Horowitz was appointed by Obama. There was tremendous bias and guilt exposed, so obvious, but Horotwitz couldn't get himself to say it. Big credibility loss. Obama knew everything."

In fact, Horowitz found the opposite of that, didn't him, Jim?

BAKER: Well, Michael Horowitz is a dedicated professional. He is doing his level best to make sure that he gets to the bottom of all -- of all the matters that he investigates as is his team.

I don't agree with the I.G. on every conclusion that he makes. I don't agree with the team on everything that they do, but they are professionals. They are impartial and these kinds of assertions are just, you know, it's detrimental to the system, and it's just unacceptable.

BERMAN: And again, contradicted by the Inspector General himself, what the President is now saying. Jim Baker, thanks for being on with us this morning. Appreciate it. BAKER: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Erica?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: John, nearly 40 million people are under weather advisories as a major storm system is moving across the country. Let's get right to CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers. Boy, a Happy Monday out there for a lot of folks -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, and this isn't even the storm that you're seeing today, the light snowflakes you're seeing in New York City. This is not the one that's actually going to make the major impact. It's still back there in Oklahoma.

So rain for the most part, some light flurries around D.C., even in the Baltimore, Philadelphia and that will be the case for most of the day today. It's the storm back out here that will eventually roll its way to the northeast into New England that will make the snow and the I.C.E. There will be a sleet, freezing rain mix for a while in places, not so much New York City, you'll be 36.

But certainly in Boston, especially West Delaware, Water Gap into Albany, Binghamton that area there will pick up snow and just to the south from Scranton all the way over to about New City, there will be a layer of ice on the ground in the next 24 hours.

The sleet gets a little more traction; when it's freezing rain, your car really has really -- and on those hills -- it has no chance, so be careful out there. Also some severe weather affecting the Southeast Coast for today, it could even be a few tornadoes.

Snow, ice and tornadoes all in the same day -- guys.

BERMAN: All right, quite a day, Chad. We know you'll be watching. Thanks so much for being with us.

History will be made this week when the full House votes in all likelihood to impeach the President of the United States. We are going to speak to a House Democrat who will cast a vote and may -- may -- be involved in this impeachment process beyond the House vote. We will explain, next.



BERMAN: Breaking overnight, the House Judiciary Committee released its 658-page impeachment report detailing the decision to charge President Trump with abuse of power and obstructions of Congress.

The full House is expected to vote on the Articles of Impeachment Wednesday, and again, this will be historic. It will make Donald J. Trump, just the third U.S. President ever to be impeached.

Joining us now is Congressman Eric Swalwell. He is a Democrat on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees and we'll ask him if his work on impeachment will be done after this Wednesday in just a moment.

Congressman, thanks for being with us.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Of course. Thanks for having me back.

BERMAN: After Wednesday, the action moves to the Senate.

SWALWELL: That's right.

BERMAN: Minority Leader Chuck Schumer just released a list of witnesses that he would like to see in the Senate: Mick Mulvaney, the Acting Chief of Staff; John Bolton, former National Security adviser, and a couple of officials who work in O.M.B. or for Mulvaney, Robert Blair, and Michael Duffy.

What's significant in your mind about this request, and do you think it's smart?

SWALWELL: It's certainly smart? We believe we have enough to show abuse of power, just from the, you know, 17 depositions that we took and the 12 public hearing witnesses that we had.

But if there are gaps in what we know, it's because witnesses like Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton were told by the President to not come in, and so if the senate could get them and we couldn't, you know, then that would be great, I think, for the American people to, you know, fill in the blanks that we weren't able to obtain because of the President's obstruction.

BERMAN: Now, Mitch McConnell has suggested or there were Senate Republicans who have suggested maybe they don't want any witnesses. Do you think Democrats should be willing to strike a deal and say, you know what you give us these four witnesses, you can have the whistleblower or Hunter Biden -- would you make that deal?

SWALWELL: Well, I think the American people want a fair trial, and Hunter Biden is really not relevant to what the President did, and the whistleblower is no longer relevant in that everything that he has alleged, has been proved through other witnesses.

So if you're jeopardizing his security, I don't think anyone wants to see that happen.

BERMAN: So no, the answer is no, you wouldn't be willing to strike a deal to get those four witnesses by saying Hunter Biden should testify.

SWALWELL: I think the American people want relevant witnesses, and you know, I don't see any relevancy in those two individuals.

BERMAN: As a legal matter, you have the benefit of having gone to law school, I haven't. What happens if this list of four, say Mick Mulvaney, the Chief Justice of the United States signs a Senate trial subpoena saying Mick Mulvaney you have to come testify. What on earth happens if Mulvaney says, I don't want to at that point -- where would you appeal it? Where do you appeal it to? SWALWELL: You would be compelled to testify and face, you know, civil

contempt or criminal contempt hopefully, it wouldn't come to that. You know, hopefully people start doing the right thing and showing the courage that that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and Dr. Fiona Hill and Masha Yovanovitch showed when they defied the President's subpoenas and showed up.

BERMAN: It's awfully hard -- it stretches the imagination to consider what it would mean to defy a subpoena for a Senate impeachment trial that might be signed by the Chief Justice of the United States, talking about unprecedented. Who knows if we'll see it?

There will be a series of House impeachment managers who will prosecute the case in the Senate trial. What do you think Nancy Pelosi should consider when choosing those House managers?

SWALWELL: Well, I think you want to send over your best, you know, the team that can tell the American people why the President's abuse of power jeopardized not only national security, but also the integrity of our elections. And so, you know, there are still a lot of people who are just starting to tune in on this and we want to make sure we convey it to them.

You know, and I was thinking about this over the weekend, John, you know, most people in the United States have never met the President of the United States. Most people don't really I think, in our lives would deal with $391 million.

When I was on a city council, our budget of a city of 50,000 was just $80 million. And most of us don't really have reason to interact or do business with Ukraine.

So we have to take these big numbers, big office, you know, faraway country, and bring it down to everyday Americans and make it clear that no one would get away with this in your small town, if your Mayor tried to conduct a shake down like this or the highest office in the land.

BERMAN: So what's your elevator pitch then? What's your one sentence to explain to the American people what the President did and why he should be impeached for it?

SWALWELL: Yes, if your local police chief said, Mayor, I need more cops, and the Mayor said, I will do that for you. I'll make the city safer, but I need you to investigate my political opponent. In your gut, in your small town, you would know that's wrong and we can only expect our children to know right from wrong if we lead by example and hold local officials and people all the way up especially all the way up to the top accountable.

BERMAN: Would you be willing to be an impeachment manager?

SWALWELL: Well, I'm willing to show up this week and make the best case in the House. But I'm not thinking beyond that. And I don't think it's responsible to get ahead of what we have to do this week, because we still have a big task of convincing our colleagues in the House this week to impeach.

BERMAN: If Nancy Pelosi, who I understand can be very persuasive, says Congressman Swalwell, I want you to be an efficient manager, your answer would be?

SWALWELL: Again, john, I'm not going to speculate on that. Because I think that shows that I'm not thinking about what I have to do this week, which is, make sure my constituents AND my colleagues understand what's at stake in, you know, what we have to do to make sure the President doesn't do this again.

BERMAN: Have there been any conversations?

SWALWELL: I don't want to go into any private deliberations of my colleagues. John, I'll just say this. We are focused and I think what you've seen in the last few weeks is how serious and somber this process has been compared to what we saw from our Republican colleagues where they became a circus on their side.

You know, we've stuck just to the facts and conviction, but I think that why 50 percent of the American people in a Fox poll believe this President should be impeached and removed.

BERMAN: Fifty percent say impeach and remove. Another four percent say, impeach but not remove. That is again a historically high number. We just showed, Richard Nixon didn't cross that threshold until a month before he resigned.

There are a number of your colleagues who have suggested that Justin Amash, the now Independent congressman from Michigan, formerly Republican who supports impeaching and removing the President would make for a good impeachment manager because he used to be a Republican, because it would show some bipartisanship. What do you make of that suggestion?

SWALWELL: Well, I'll say we should send our best in to -- and I admire Justin Amash for having the courage to stand up and say this is what he believes, and you know, he essentially lost his party because of that.

But again, I think it's too early to go into who the management team is before we even vote in the House.

BERMAN: We just got a bit of news in my ear, which is Congresswoman Slotkin of Michigan, who had yet to state how she would vote on impeachment. How do you think she just came out and announced?

SWALWELL: I believe she probably is supportive because she helped get us in this position by courageously saying that inquiry should start.

BERMAN: And I just put you on the spot unfairly. Yes. In fact, she did come out and say she does support impeachment and a number of the so-called moderates over the weekend have come out and said they supported impeachment.

One, at least for today, a Democrat who is against it is Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey and he has indicated apparently that he is going to switch to become a Republican. What does that switch tell you? That there's not space in the Democratic Party if you're against impeachment?

SWALWELL: There's a lot of space in the Democratic Party and no single vote defines that. I think which party you're in is a very personal decision. And so if you, because of your principles, don't believe you should be a Democrat anymore, we should all respect that.

But if you have polling concerns that you cannot win a Democratic primary, and you have voted against President Trump 93 percent of the time and you're only switching parties because you need a new vehicle to come back to Congress, I think that goes to what I'm concerned many of the Republicans are doing, which is they're not voting their conscience and they're not doing things out of principle. They're just with the President on impeachment, because that's how they get back to Congress.


SWALWELL: And I think we need to start seeing more people in Washington, like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, like Masha Yovanovitch, like Dr. Fiona Hill who are willing to risk it all -- their jobs, their reputation -- to do the right thing.

BERMAN: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks for coming in this morning.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

BERMAN: You have a big week ahead of you. Thanks for being here.

SWALWELL: Thanks, yes.

BERMAN: Erica? Oh, it's me. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He will join us live in just a few minutes to talk about his proposal to Mitch McConnell on how a Senate impeachment trial should take place.

Now, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: I'll take it now, John, thank you. For the first time ever, all of the top beauty pageant winners are black women and three of them are here with us live in the studio. You'll hear from them next.



HILL: Miss America, Toni-Ann Singh crowned Miss World on Saturday. Quite a historic moment, not just because she got that crown, but because with that win, all of the top beauty pageant winners are now women of color: Miss Teen USA, Miss USA, Miss America, Miss World and Miss Universe and three of them are joining us here this morning in the studio.

Miss America, Nia Franklin; Miss Universe, Zozi Tunzi; and Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst. Great to have all of you with us. Congratulations.



CHESLIE KRYST, MISS USA 2019: Thank you.

HILL: We have a powerhouse on the couch, which I love. But this is such an important moment that we have women of color, black women specifically being represented in this way.

When you look at not only the women sitting next to you on the couch, but when you think about this moment, what does it mean for you? And what does it mean for young girls and boys who are watching?

FRANKLIN: Well, I think black women need this. It's a symbol, and it shows that no matter where you're from, what country you're from, where you live in America, you can be successful and you can be a part of something great.

It was just back in 1940 that black women were allowed to even compete in the Miss America Organization, and it took 30 years in 1971 when Cheryl Browne became the first black woman to step foot on the Miss America stage.

And so it's huge, and I'm so glad that people are recognizing this moment.

HILL: It's huge, but even getting to that moment and I know you've dealt with some of this, there has been push back at something as simple as your hair. Right? And you got a lot of pushback on that about what you should look like if you're going to be a part of this pageant. This sends a really clear message of what you should look like. And it's -- you should look like yourself.

KRYST: Exactly, exactly. And that you don't have to fit a certain mold in order to be successful in pageantry or in other arenas. And so it's exciting for me to just be a part of this and exciting for me to know that I can be an example for other people, because there are certainly examples that I was able to follow. that inspired me like when Ursula Burns was CEO of Xerox, when Barack Obama was President of the United States.

I think seeing those figures is so essential to me, as a woman, as a woman of color. I'm glad that I can share this moment with my sisters.

HILL: And from an international perspective. What does it do for you?

TUNZI: Yes, I mean, like she said, when she saw those people do those things, she felt like she could do it, too. I mean, we can't be what we cannot see.

And so I think that's why this is so important, because then you know, young girls can look at us and feel like you know, they too are important. Also, it's just a matter of, you know, sometimes you walk into a casting where you walk into a job interview, and if you see one other person of color or one other black woman, you, you know, it's either you or her. It can never be both of you, because there's only one seat at the table.

But now, this proves that there can actually be four seats at the table, you know, it can be all of us. It doesn't have to be just one of us.

HILL: How important is it in this moment that this is not just okay, we made it. Okay. So look, is everybody happy now? Right? That this is in fact the first step to this is how it should be.


KRYST: Yes, it absolutely is. I mean, I think what was cool for me was that, like, I think it's three out of the last four Miss USA is a woman of color. There is Kara McCullough, there was Deshauna Barber -- and that was important for me to see that even though in the past, not even just that like the far past, I mean, this is the recent past, there were women of color, that even though that happened, I still had a chance to be successful.

And that people didn't think oh, that's enough. We've given them this role.

HILL: We checked the box.

FRANKLIN: Yes, yes.

KRYST: Yes, exactly. That it's still possible for us to be successful on our own merit, and then it doesn't matter if you're -- if you look like the last winner or you look like the last three, if you're the best, you're the best and you can win.

HILL: You're also all using your platforms for really important movements and causes, and I think that that has been highlighted so much more in recent history when we talk about women who are in pageant. It's not just about yes, you're beautiful women, but it's also about your accomplishments. It's about your brains. It's about your heart.

And so I'd love for you to share with people a little bit more of what each of you are doing because you're really focused specifically on the arts.

FRANKLIN: Absolutely. So I'm the composer. I have my Master's Degree in music composition, and I've had so many opportunities this year to work on in what in the Miss America Organization, we call our social impact initiative, so I've done everything from host the New York Philharmonic. I've also been able to perform with the Dallas Symphony and even perform overseas.

So it's been an incredible year for me and even though I only have a few more days left, I get to crown my successor on Thursday, but I'm really grateful for this time, and I think it was just such an important time in history and part of God's plan for this to happen like Drake said.


HILL: A lot of things that Drake has done, but we're going to leave him out of the rest of the segment. Zozi, you're really focused, too on gender-based violence, and this is something that we all need to be talking more about.

TUNZI: Yes. Of course. It's such a global issue, and at first, it started small in South Africa because there was a lot of, you know, gender-based violence and femicide, but then it's not just a South African issue, it's a global issue, which is why it's so important for me to take it onto this platform as well.

But not just gender-based violence, but gender inequality, just fighting that because, I mean, we see it every day where it's still such a patriarchal world and we need to break, you know, those systems and then to try to push women forward and to say, look, women can do it as much as men can do it.

And in the same breath, say, we need to protect women so that they can feel safe, you know, once again in the world and so that's why it's so important for me to work on this cause.

HILL: And that actually brings us perfectly to you, Cheslie, you are an attorney, and so you work, obviously on -- you're dedicated to criminal justice reform.

But I was fascinated, part of your path to getting there, you being told, you know, to your point, Zozi, well, you should really be in a skirt instead of pants, and that would really help you make your argument.

KRYST: Yes, well, I think the most interesting part of that story is that the person who told me that was a woman of color. So she's a double minority, just like me, she knows the racism and the sexism that each of us experienced in the workplace, especially in the legal industry, and still took it upon herself to share what she thought was a good piece of advice.

But I think it's important for us to continue pushing against what are sometimes very unfair stereotypes and expectations, and just continue to be individual because it shouldn't matter what I wear when I go to the courtroom, as long as I'm wearing a suit and it's not, you know, a bright pink polka dotted suit, which would still be really, really fun to wear in some court rooms.

But as long as it's not that, like I can wear a skirt, I can wear pants and it should be okay for me to do either those and just be able to argue my case.

HILL: A lot of what happens during your reign has to do with the people that you meet, and specifically young people. So I'm wondering what stood out to you? What moment has really touched you or surprised you? FRANKLIN: There was a moment. So my gown for last year is on display

in Atlantic City where I was crowned, and there's a little girl, there's a photo of this little girl named Isabella Davis. She is a fantastic -- she does, like basically beams and that sort of thing. She's probably going to be in the Olympics one day.

But there's a photo of her looking up at my dress, staring at it and gazing at it and it reminded me a lot of the moment of the young girl looking at Michelle Obama's picture, the artwork, and that is one of those moments where my heart just drops because it's like she sees herself in me. She's an African-American little girl, and that's why we do this and even having Cheslie's mentorship over the years who would have thought that we'd be sitting here four years later.

KRYST: I know.

FRANKLIN: I mean, she -- I think, it speaks to the sisterhood and just seeing women uplift women and that's what we're here to do.

HILL: And that is another great thing for us to focus on as well. Ladies, congratulations to all of you. I really appreciate you coming in this morning. We look forward to seeing more.

FRANKLIN: Thank you so much for having us.

HILL: John?

BERMAN: All right, that was a great discussion. Joining me now for another discussion about the historic days and weeks we have ahead. The Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Senator Schumer, thank you so much for being with us.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Good morning, John.

BERMAN: Overnight, you released a letter that you wrote to the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell suggesting where you stand on the coming Senate Impeachment Trial and asking for four witnesses ...


BERMAN: ... to be part of that trial. Those four witnesses are Mick Mulvaney, the Acting Chief of Staff; John Bolton, the former National Security adviser; Robert Blair, an adviser to Mulvaney and Michael Duffy, an O.M.B. official. Why is the testimony from those four individuals important to you?

SCHUMER: Well, look, this is so serious. The Constitution labels impeachment as one of the great powers that Congress has and should be used carefully and judiciously.

So when you have the evidence which the House has, which is very, very severe, all the facts should come out. These four witnesses have direct knowledge of the facts, particularly in regard to the delay in the aid to Ukraine. I don't know what they'll say. Maybe they'll say something

exculpatory about President Trump. But for so many people who think that there are many Republicans who are saying, yes, this looks pretty bad, but we need more evidence. This is the right evidence.

We want a trial to be fair for the American people to think it should be fair, but not to be a cover up, not to be something where there are witnesses who have direct knowledge as to what happened do not testify.

So I am sending this letter this morning to all of my colleagues, Democrat and Republican in the hopes that we can come together on a fair trial. I guess the way you'd sum it up is the Old Joe Friday on "Dragnet," if you remember that show. Just the facts ma'am.

We don't need any fishing expeditions. We're not trying to be dilatory. We're trying to have the kind of justice America is known for, which is swift, but fair justice.