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Impeachment Trial In Limbo As Congress Begins Recess; Voters React To Latest Democratic Debate; Buttigieg And Warren Spar Over "Wine Cave" Fundraiser During Democratic Debate. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 20, 2019 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:30:23]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A status update and an important new development in the progress of impeachment. First of all, the president has been impeached. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That's still true.

BERMAN: That is still true.

CAMEROTA: Got it.

BERMAN: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will not transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate until she is convinced they will have a fair trial. And the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, says fine, so don't.

The biggest new development, though, is the president doesn't like it. He wants the trial and he wants it fast.

So let's bring in Joe Lockhart, former White House press secretary under President Clinton and a CNN political commentator. And, Elie Honig, a federal -- a former federal prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst.

And Joe, that last point, to me, is the most important and perhaps explains everything. There's a lot of questions about why is Nancy Pelosi doing this, what does she want to get out of it. It might just be that the endgame here is to rattle the president and to an extent, triangulate -- create opposition between the president and Mitch McConnell.

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think there -- it's a -- there's -- she's seeking some leverage here to try to get some witnesses. I think she's also trying to keep this in the news on her terms over the Christmas break.

But you're right about the main point, which is everybody has their own equities here.

The Democrats are together. They want to get John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney under oath. I don't think they care whether it's on camera in a deposition, like 1998, or on the Senate floor.

Mitch McConnell wants to protect his senators. He wants to stay majority leader. He wants Cory Gardner not to have to take a hard vote. So he wants this done fast in a short trial.

The president, for whatever reason, wants a reality show that vindicates him. And right now, she has driven a huge wedge between the majority leader, and these vulnerable senators, and the White House, and she's going to enjoy her Christmas season because of that.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, Mitch McConnell may want to do this and want it over fast, but what he's saying publicly is I don't see how it punishes us to never deliver something that we don't want.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And so, if Nancy Pelosi doesn't want a Senate trial because she doesn't want -- she wants to deprive President Trump of that moment of the gavel -- acquitted -- and Mitch McConnell doesn't want it, then maybe we're just here forever.

HONIG: Right. I mean, I agree. That's why I'm skeptical of this move by Nancy Pelosi. I applaud and understand the end goal here, which is let's have some witnesses, let's have some facts and evidence. But I don't see a path to victory legally or tactically with this idea of withholding articles.

The Constitution says nothing about actually serving notice of the articles one way or another. What the Constitution does say is the Senate has sole power -- sole power to try all impeachments.

And so, I think McConnell's countermove is one of two things. Either one, fine, keep them -- I don't want them. Let them die there.

Or two, I'm just going to start the trial anyway. You can go to court, Speaker Pelosi, and try to stop me -- and good luck with that.

BERMAN: Can I just say what you have here two of the best poker players in the world playing the highest stakes game of poker you can have. But the thing is there's a joke in the deck, right, and it's the President of the United States. And I think it's the only explanation for why this is worth the fight for Nancy Pelosi because she can pit the president against Mitch McConnell.

I think you're all right. Mitch McConnell has no f's to give on this. He says --

CAMEROTA: Wow.

BERMAN: -- you don't want the trial, don't bother -- don't come here. But the president doesn't feel that way and that's what complicates it.

CAMEROTA: Because he wants that moment -- BERMAN: Yes.

HONIG: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- of the president has been acquitted.

HONIG: I don't necessarily agree, though, that just because it will tick off the president it's the right thing to do automatically.

The other thing I would say -- keep in mind -- it doesn't look good just from a process perspective.

I mean, the put the shoe on the other foot. What if the Republicans stepped in here and said we're going to try to stop this from coming to the Senate, for whatever reason.

We don't want a trial so we're going to go to court. We're going to say we don't want these articles and we're not going to -- we're not going to take them, and we're not going to have a trial.

People would be flipping out the other way.

LOCKHART: Well, it sounds a lot like the White House strategy but --

HONIG: Yes.

LOCKHART: -- there you go -- and they are Republicans.

I -- the poker analogy is great. It's a little like the three of them are playing and Trump's leaning over and saying McConnell -- oh, you've got a pair of kings there. That's really good. Yes, you know, that's great.

There's nothing legal or process about this. This is politics. This is trying to get an advantage.

The real leverage that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have is that 71 percent of Americans want to see live witnesses -- want to see people who know.

And what Pelosi has done here is to make sure that we debate this between now and when the Senate comes back, about live witnesses. If she had not done this, Mitch McConnell could have quietly started a trial on January sixth.

BERMAN: Right. And there's another major note we want to get to and we don't have much time left, which is this op-ed in "Christianity Today," which is a magazine that was founded by the late Rev. Billy Graham.

[05:35:09]

And in this magazine, which has a large evangelical reader base, it says, "Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election -- that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the creator of the Ten Commandments."

In other words, as a matter of faith, the president should be removed, Joe. This is coming from an evangelical magazine.

LOCKHART: Yes, and when I saw this last night, not being that familiar with these -- you know, how influential these magazines are and that group, I checked around and this is very influential. So this is a very big deal.

They called for President Clinton to resign or to be removed on the same basis, you know, from a faith point of view and from a moral point of view.

This is a crack in the most reliable voting bloc that Donald Trump has -- evangelicals. They made what I would call a deal with the devil back in 2016. They said give us judges that restrict abortion and we'll overlook your sins. They are now saying -- at least one sect is saying we won't overlook your sins anymore.

CAMEROTA: I think that everybody should read it because they talk about that. They say we understand what we get out of this president, we understand why people have supported him for so long, but what has happened is immoral, and they make the case in a pretty dispassionate way. So everybody should read this in "Christianity Today."

BERMAN: We're going to have the writer of this op-ed later in the show. We're going to speak to Ben Howe, who has written a whole book on this subject. A lot more to discuss on that front.

Elie and Joe, thank you so much --

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: -- for being with us.

There was this debate last night at a very crucial moment in the Democratic race. The first state to vote will be Iowa. We sat down with Iowa voters and watched the debate with them. What did they say?

CAMEROTA: But first, as consumers increasingly shop online, a company called Caper is developing smart shopping carts that are packed with artificial intelligence to bring those online shopping conveniences offline.

Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, grocery stores are facing competition from the biggest names in online retail. That's why a company called Caper is making a shopping aisle staple smart.

AHMED BESHRY, CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF BUSINESS OPERATOR, CAPER: We thought we'd take a conventional tool that everybody knows how to use and pack it full of technology and sensors. Right now, you could basically throw in weighted good, like your

fruits and vegetables, and the cart will actually weigh it for you. It will recommend you particular items based on where you are in the store. It will help you check out.

So we have these bagging hooks inside of our cart to allow customers to bag their groceries as they go, so that after they're done paying they could just grab their bags and walk out of the store.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That kind of grab-and-go technology is already in place at Amazon Go stores. There, a complex system of cameras, sensors, and A.I. track every product a customer interacts with.

BESHRY: So we wanted to make that as a customer walks into the store they could just grab our cart and go. That being said, we're working with the grocery stores right now. And you can log into their -- your loyalty program within that store so we have a better idea of who you are, how your purchase, and to really compliment you as that end-user.

Basically, the ultimate vision in what we're building towards is that a customer walked into the store and they grab something off the shelf, and when they throw it in the cart all the sensors and the technology in the cart will immediately identify what that item is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For now, Caper's carts are still in the pilot stage.

BESHRY: There's a lot of different tech solutions that will take somebody away from a brick and mortar location, so what we're building is the technology that makes the experience and the convenience that you'd see online back offline.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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[05:43:05]

BERMAN: There was a very important debate that you saw here on CNN last night. The seven Democratic candidates on stage for the last time in 2019. The Iowa caucus is just, what, 46 days away -- just around the corner.

What did voters there think of this debate?

CNN's Gary Tuchman, who is basically a citizen now, of Coralville, Iowa, watched the debate with the same voters he's been watching all these debates with, and he joins us this morning. I was so eager to come in, Gary, to find out what these voters thought.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, first of all, let me start by saying that all of these voters thought each of the candidates were very strong. They thought it was a good debate. But overall, they think that one particular candidate dominated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TUCHMAN (voice-over): We've watched all the presidential debates with the same group of Iowa Democrats.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Who do you think did best in this debate?

RAQUISHIA HARRINGTON, IOWA VOTER: Amy Klobuchar.

ED CRANSTON, IOWA VOTER: Klobuchar.

JANICE WEINER, IOWA VOTER: Klobuchar.

RAQUISHIA HARRINGTON, IOWA VOTER: Klobuchar and Biden.

EUGENE MALONE, IOWA VOTER: Klobuchar and Biden.

LESLIE CARPENTER, IOWA VOTER: Klobuchar and Warren.

Top 2: Klobuchar.

Top 3: Klobuchar and Warren.

Top 5: Sanders.

Top 6: Klobuchar.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Amy Klobuchar was picked by 10 of these 11 Johnson County, Iowa Democrats.

Bottom 1: She goes comes across as having thoughtful, specific answers and not rehearsed talking points.

HARRINGTON: When the other ones were bickering she was there to diffuse it and bring focus back on why they were there.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Another consensus among this group, the belief that Joe Biden had his strongest debate.

LUTHINIA: His answers were direct, he stayed focused, and just reminded me of the eight years under Obama. I mean, something that brought those memories back for me.

TUCHMAN (on camera): What was the most important moment of the debate for you?

Bottom 1: Well, this is a little bit of a macro perspective but I've been waiting a long time for a woman president in the United States. I'll by 75 on Monday, so I --

[05:45:03]

TUCHMAN (on camera): Happy almost birthday.

Bottom 1: Thank you. I am so excited to see two women on that debate stage who just did so well, and I am so proud of them. And I think either one of them would be a magnificent president. Top 5: The most important part of this debate was very important to me personally as a transgender person hearing Bernie Sanders say that his health care plan would explicitly cover trans health care.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): When we first met these Democrats, all were undecided.

Temple Hiatt (ph) decided on Elizabeth Warren a few debates back. Roseanne Cook picked Amy Klobuchar before the last debate. And now, six more are no longer undecided.

TUCHMAN (on camera): OK, Janice?

WEINER: Caucusing for Amy Klobuchar.

TUCHMAN (on camera): RaQuishia?

Bottom 4: I'll be caucusing for Warren.

Top 5: Bernie Sanders.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Notably, three others have chosen a candidate who did not qualify for this debate.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Luthina (ph)?

LUTHINIA: I'll be causing for Cory Booker.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And you have a shirt with you.

LUTHINIA: Yes, I do.

TUCHMAN (on camera): All right.

OK, Leslie?

L. CARPENTER: Cory Booker.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Cory Booker, and you have a shirt also.

L. CARPENTER: Yes.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And your husband, Scott?

SCOTT CARPENTER, IOWA VOTER: Cory Booker.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Cory Booker. And why Cory Booker?

L. CARPENTER: Because he's endemically kind, intelligent, and he wants to unite the country.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Mirabel Hannon Kumar (ph), Eugene Malone, and Ed Cranston remain undecided.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Are you going to stay undecided until the last second? MALONE: You've got to stay tuned.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TUCHMAN: The people in this group say they have been consistently impressed with the tone of all of these debates. They say it provides a positive contrast to another candidate they don't much like -- that candidate being President Donald Trump -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Really fascinating, Gary. Great to --

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: -- check in with them and to hear how they're changing and where they now fall on the spectrum. Just, you know, a really thoughtful discussion and we appreciate that.

BERMAN: You know, and as fate would have it, we're having both candidates that were mentioned the most positively there on the show in the 8:00 hour -- Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar.

CAMEROTA: (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, right.

All right. Wine cave was the buzzword --

BERMAN: I think it's two words.

CAMEROTA: Is it? Is it? I think it is a thing and it was the buzzword of the night.

BERMAN: Phrase -- buzz phrase.

CAMEROTA: Why is that thing, wine cave, relevant? We'll tell you, next.

BERMAN: I'm in such big trouble.

But first, this week's global energy challenge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN DEFTERIOIS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR AND ANCHOR (voice-over): With nearly 4 1/2 million air passengers last year, more people are flying than ever before. Aviation is expected to account for a quarter of the global carbon budget by 2050. The industry is under pressure to change.

Biofuels are renewable substitutes for fossil fuels. They will be essential to lowering emissions across transportation, according to the International Energy Association.

BRYAN SHERBACOW, CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER, WORLD ENERGY: Over time, the potential is complete displacement for all of the fuel, quite frankly.

DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Here at Los Angeles International Airport, the fuel United Airlines purchased from World Energy goes into the general fuel tanks, meaning that all flights leaving LAX benefit from a portion of renewable fuel.

LAUREN RILEY, DIRECTOR OF ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY, UNITED AIRLINES: Our vision is that one day, flying will be sustainable. That that would become the norm.

DEFTERIOS (voice-over): John Defterios, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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[05:53:07]

CAMEROTA: The Democratic candidates squared off last night on a host of topics, but it was the discussion of a wine cave that got heated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I have never even been to a wine cave. I've been to the wind cave in South Dakota.

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They don't have to go shake the money tree in the wine cave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Oh -- joining us now, we have Terry McAuliffe, former governor of Virginia, and former Florida gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum. They are both CNN political commentators.

Did you want to get right to Pete Buttigieg's response?

BERMAN: Well, I don't -- I don't know that we have it because actually --

Well, let's go to you, Mayor Gillum, first. It was interesting to hear Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, and Elizabeth Warren square off really head-on on the issue. The issue wasn't about the wine cave per se; it's about fundraising. The idea that you go out and hold fundraisers from donors who can afford to max out at $2,800 or whether or not you're doing all your donations online.

What does it matter to voters? Can you explain that to me?

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (D) FORMER CANDIDATE FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Yes. Well, first, good morning, John, Alisyn. I think when I was with you earlier this week I told you that I thought that the dynamics would largely be between Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren, largely because of what they're both competing for.

I understood Sen. Warren's attack or sort of line of questioning there, which was largely about her making the point that she doesn't have to sell her time to anybody and be accessible to everyone.

And I also understood his point, which was to say just because wealthy people make a contribution to me doesn't make them corrupt and certainly doesn't make me corrupt for accepting their contribution. They have a right as much as anyone else to participate in this process.

The takeaway for me is that they both actually have demonstrated really good success with fundraising. On Sen. Warren's part, being able to largely survive off of small-dollar contributions and still stay very competitive in a fundraising sense.

[05:55:05]

And for Mayor Pete, frankly, being able to try and do both. I'm glad that he's opened up his fundraisers to be more transparent.

But for the average person, the reason why this whole wine cellar makes a big difference is because most people probably haven't been in one. And so it's easy to sort of make it a little bit dark and maybe a little scurrilous. But beyond that, I just think they're both trotting out different ways of raising the resources necessary to compete.

CAMEROTA: Gov. McAuliffe, I bet you know about a wine cellar. I bet you've been in a wine cellar. And so, tell us what -- if you think this is an effective argument between two Democratic candidates.

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, (D) FORMER GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: Yes, I've had wine in my cellar. I grew up on Boone's Farm and Ripple, so that's where I'm coming from today.

But listen, I -- listen, the Democrats are about electability. I thought -- think what you saw last night, who has the best chance of beating Donald Trump. I thought it was Joe Biden's best debate by far. It's an issue of electability.

And as it relates to the campaign finance, all Democrats and all the primary voters are in agreement we've got to do something about Citizens United. We've got to stop all this campaign money -- we've got to limit it. And that debate last night was we're all in agreement, but we've got to win first.

And I thought Pete's response back was I am not going to tie my hand behind my back. Donald Trump already has $300 million. And, Sen. Warren, you took $2,800 checks when you ran for the Senate and you transferred it.

So the bigger, broader issue for me is we're all in agreement as Democrats that we've got to limit the money in politics and we've got to stop Citizens United, but we've got to win first. We have got to beat Donald Trump. And what came out of last night for all the Democrats, who has the best chance, who has the most experience, who has the best health care plan? Who has the best chance of beating Donald Trump?

And now, with impeachment going and Mitch McConnell's basically in the tank for President Trump, it becomes even more important for electability for Democrats.

BERMAN: Often what happens in a multi-candidate field when two candidates, A and B, face off and go after each other in a negative way, the main beneficiary is candidate C or D, right?

So, Joe Biden and Amy Klobuchar were watching the exchange between Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, going have at it, friends. You can talk about wine caves as much as you want. We're going to coast through there.

Who do you think came out best, Mayor Gillum, last night, from the debate?

GILLUM: Well, I'll tell you. First of all, Amy Klobuchar was no fly on the wall. She got in and she mixed it up with Mayor Pete on that issue as well. And I actually thought she had an incredible night.

I have felt for a long time that she's a little bit of a sleeper candidate. It wasn't about any specific particular moment; I think it was about the way she made you feel. If you had to answer the question who would you rather have a drink with -- I guess for the purpose of this morning, I'd say coffee --

BERMAN: Yes.

GILLUM: -- she's probably one of these people that you'd want to say man, I'd like to pull back the layers and get to know her a little bit more.

Obviously -- and this is to the governor's point -- in the case of Biden, frankly, he didn't have to necessarily get in there and mix it up at all. He is still considered the front runner in this race.

He did what he needed to do. He seemed to stay sharp and focused throughout. He stayed out of the fray. No one really went after him.

And I thought he turned in a pretty solid debate performance. And when the highest criteria for Democrats right now is winning, that's kind of -- he doesn't have to do a whole bunch more than that.

CAMEROTA: So, Governor, who do you think had the best night? Was it Biden?

MCAULIFFE: Yes, I thought Biden had a great -- by far, it was his best debate. When he was dealing on the issues -- when he talked about the issues overseas and Afghanistan.

I thought his most poignant moment was when he talked about when he is president -- about bringing people together -- I will work with Republicans even those that have attacked me and my son. I thought that was very powerful.

I thought Amy Klobuchar also had a very good debate.

What was fascinating to me -- I have been a student of politics for a very, very long time and watched presidential politics for a long time.

Here is Joe Biden, who has now been the front runner for over a year and nobody went after him last night. I mean, that is baffling to me as we are about 50 days away from Iowa -- the beginning of these contests -- nobody went after the front runner. And he just stood on that stage and let Amy and Elizabeth go after Pete. So it was a very good debate for him.

But I think Amy really struck out and got her points out there about the electability issue, I have the experience, I've won three times in Minnesota. I did better than anyone else in a state that Donald Trump carried. I won it by 20. I thought it was an effective argument for her.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you. Have a great day.

CAMEROTA: You, too.

The Senate impeachment trial is at a standstill, but NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If anyone has reason to be angry with the Republicans, it's me.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Candidates squaring off in the final Democratic debate of the year.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), SOUTH BEND, INDIANA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want to talk about the capacity to win, try putting together a coalition to bring you back to office as a gay dude in Mike Pence's Indiana.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you had won in Indiana, that would be one thing. You tried and you lost.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Speaker of the House continues --