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Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Letter To Democrats: Impeachment Vote Was 'Inspiring;' As Trump Eyes Impeachment, Global Powers Flex Muscles; Five U.S. Airports Warn Of Potential Measles Exposure. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired December 25, 2019 - 13:00   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: Kylie, thank you for that. And thank you for joining us on this special holiday edition of INSIDE POLITICS. Brianna Keilar starts Right Now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Merry Christmas. I'm Brianna Keilar live from CNN's Washington headquarters for this special holiday edition of CNN Right Now.

And the battle over the impeachment process is still underway during this holiday. The latest, one of the Republican senators who may be on the fence, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is voicing her concern with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's coordination with the White House over the upcoming impeachment trial.

In an interview, Murkowski said, and in fairness, when I heard that, I was disturbed. To me, it means we have to take a step back from being hand in glove with the defense. And so I heard what leader McConnell had said. I happen to think that has further confused the process.

Murkowski also criticizing House Democrats, saying that their impeachment process was rushed and incomplete.

And before a Senate trial can happen, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has to send over the articles of impeachment to the Senate. She did address that in her dear colleague letter that was dated on the 21st, writing, this week, the House solemnly honored our oath of office bypassing the articles of impeachment. It now remains for the Senate to present the rules under which we will proceed. We can then appoint managers. The vote on the House floor was overwhelming and inspiring and the number of people who want to be managers is indicative of our strong case.

As all of this unfolds, the president is spending Christmas at his resort, Mar-a-Lago.

We have CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez along there for the ride in West Palm Beach, Florida. Boris, any reaction from the president today?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: None specifically to Nancy Pelosi's letter just yet, Brianna. Of course, since the president arrived, impeachment has been top of mind. He's been tweeting repeatedly about it, launching attacks at Democrats and specifically Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. The president was actually asked about her last night as he was arriving for Christmas Eve Einner at Mar-a-Lago. He was asked by reporters if he prays for Nancy Pelosi.

The president, of course, having criticized Pelosi for saying previously that she prays for President Trump. Trump not answering the question, saying simply, quote, we're going to have a great year.

And the president did have a general message for the American people. He tweeted this out earlier in the day, simply writing, Merry Christmas. The White House also putting out a video of the president and First Lady Melania, side-by-side. In that video, the president has this message. Quote, we must strive to foster a culture of deeper understanding and respect, traits that exemplify the teachings of Christ, deeper understanding and respect, as claims that the House speaker hates Republicans and hates people who voted for him. Brianna?

KEILAR: Boris, thank you so much. Boris Sanchez for us in West Palm Beach, Florida.

And let's discuss all of this now with CNN Political Analyst, Sarah Isgur and former DOJ National Security Prosecutor, Joseph Moreno.

All right. Let's talk first about the comments that we've heard from Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. I mean, it stuck just out to me. She could have been even harsher on Mitch McConnell but she still did say she was disturbed by what he said about coordinating with the White House. And you can't really overstate how significant it is for her to say that. Is that an indication of a crack? Is that an indication of other senators who might feel the same way or is this just one person?

SARAH ISGUR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it is one person now. I think disturbed is a very strong word that she used, actually, and I think that this is the concern for Mitch McConnell. If you move too far towards the president, you could lose those four votes. And that's important for the group.

Of course, to remove a president, you need far more than just that, far more than that. So I think that it's interesting that she said that. I think it probably will have an effect on how McConnell and the leadership moves forward.

Do I think it's indicative of some swell to remove the president among the Republican caucus? No.

KEILAR: She really took aim at House Democrats too, right? She had criticism for both sides here. But she must have known when she said this about Mitch McConnell this was going to be the headline.

ISGUR: Yes, absolutely. On the flip side, you talk about the dear colleague letter from Nancy Pelosi, and she says, we're waiting to see the rules under which we will proceed. But, of course, the House has no role moving forward. And so Nancy Pelosi has no say in the Senate rules of how they'll proceed.

And so Lisa Murkowski may be feeling what all of us are feeling this Christmas, that both sides at this point are playing games with us.

KEILAR: The speaker is clearly trying to have a role at least in the court of public opinion, if she doesn't have an actual role, Joe. But earlier, I interviewed Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. She's a Democrat from Michigan, of course. And I asked her if she was concerned that Speaker Pelosi hasn't sent over the articles of impeachment, this is what she said.



REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): When a group of veteran members really were worried about what was going to happen to our national security, that became a tipping point. She knows what she's doing. She wants to make sure that there's a fair trial in the Senate. She's doing what she needs to do. And I have the most confidence in her that she will do what's right for this country.

And I know the speaker. That is the number one thing she does, is protect our democracy and our Constitution.


KEILAR: No doubt, the speaker has a pretty good finger on the pulse of her caucus, but there are a lot of Democrats who wished those articles were already over in the Senate. They want to hot potato this over there, Joe.

JOSEPH MORENO, FORMER DOJ NATIONAL SECURITY PROSECUTOR: Yes. Look, it's a risky tactic. I get what she's doing. She's keeping the president off his game, right? I've heard President Trump described as an asymmetrical warrior. And the only person that can match him is Speaker Pelosi.

So she's taking it away from him. I want to be impeached. I don't want to be impeached. I want the articles. I don't want the articles.

However, she can play this too far. And I think she will find other Democrats to say, hey, look, we went back to our constituents and we voted for this in part because we said it was urgent. We had to get this done. We can't sit on this indefinitely.

So my prediction, you will see these articles delivered in short order, weeks, not months.

KEILAR: I wonder, for both of you, if you have an opinion on the managers, because this is part of what the House does. They pick these managers, Republicans and Democrats, they both get to pick them and send them over to the Senate trial. Any idea of who you think is a natural fit for that? ISGUR: I think we have a better idea on the Republican side of who would be a natural fit for that. The sort of crew that has already existed, Gaetz, Meadows, who's announced he's retiring, Jordan. I'll be shocked if they don't sort of -- if not, be the managers themselves, have a great deal of say over it. They talk to the president a great deal. And so I'm sure they are in contact and figuring that out.

KEILAR: What do you think?

MORENO: I'll give my unsolicited advice.

KEILAR: Yes, give it. You give good advice, Joe.

MORENO: Just because someone is a good member of Congress does not mean they'll necessarily be a good trial lawyer. So I think you want managers that cannot only give good speeches but understand the case, understand the rules, can think on their feet. And if witnesses are ultimately called, you want someone who can direct and cross examine a witness. It's not an easy skill to master. So I think you want to think less grandstanding, more practical skills.

ISGUR: I think that is fabulous advice and hard to find in Congress.

KEILAR: A lawyer? So few lawyers in Congress, the qualities that he's described, sure.

OK, So Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader and the Senate minority leader are deadlock right now over basically what the ground rules are going to be for this impeachment trial in the Senate. And it appears, according to sources, that McConnell is ready to maybe just go this alone without Schumer. Is that problematic for Republicans, do you think, Sarah?

ISGUR: I doubt it. We saw some of this play out on the House side as well. Republicans had various gripes about the process on the articles of impeachment, and Nancy Pelosi, really, the committee moved forward without that.

The Senate side is different because it's a trial. And the Senate, in general, has been more collegial and try to work across the aisle. I think though the precedent that has been set by judicial nominations could just bleed right on over into this process where you try to compromise for a little while. If it doesn't work, you toss it in the air and it moves forward on a very partisan basis.

And I don't think it's worked well for judicial nominations for either side, frankly. And so I am concerned about that for the impeachment trial.

MORENO: I mean, Sarah is right. This is a guy who basically destroyed a Supreme Court nomination. He sat on it until it died in the case of Merrick Garland. So I think he has no compunctions about going this alone.

I take Leader McConnell at his word. He would like a compromise. But if push comes to shove, he will move forward with the bare majority that he needs to get this thing going.

KEILAR: Okay. Guys, thank you so much. Happy Holidays. Sarah Isgur, Joe Moreno, Merry Christmas.

MORENO: Merry Christmas.

KEILAR: resident Trump's mind might be on impeachment, but there are plenty of other happenings around the world that demand his attention.

Starting in North Korea where leader Kim Jong-un has threatened to send the United States a, quote, Christmas gift. No word on what that is yet, but military officials say they are expecting a long-range ballistic missile test.

And in Russia, President Vladimir Putin is flexing his muscle, bragging that Russia is the only country in the world to deploy hypersonic weapons capable of defeating U.S. and NATO defenses, including a missile that can deliver a warhead at hypersonic speed.

I want to bring in former U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy, Joseph Yun, with us along with CNN National Security Analyst Matthew Rosenberg.

And President Trump doesn't seem worried about North Korea's gift. You've heard what he said. He said maybe it will be something nice, basically even as he put it, quote, a beautiful vase. I say vase, he says vase. I just want to quote completely accurately.


I wonder, Joseph, what you think Kim Jong-un has in mind here.

JOSEPH YUN, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR NORTH KOREA POLICY: Well, there is no question that this so-called bromance has gone a bit sour. And Kim Jong-un has a gift for President Trump and it's not going to be a nice gift. Most likely guess, it's going to be a missile of some sort. And why? Because over the past six months, North Koreans have tested about more than a dozen missiles and the latest indicates that there has been what we called solid fuel missiles, which means they can hide it anywhere, talk it out (ph) and send it over (ph).

So I tend to think this is some kind of missile, whether it's a medium to long-range, low to medium-range or (INAUDIBLE). If it is a long- range missile, that is going to be make President Trump very, very angry. And I could see that if it's a long-range missile (INAUDIBLE) what I think a quiet night between North Korea and Unite States (INAUDIBLE).

KEILAR: I mean, Matthew, that's a terrible Christmas gift, right? That's awful. And you hear the president often touting a great relationship with Kim Jong-un. What would this say about their relationship?

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, I think it's plainly obvious that this is not a great relationship that the president has claimed at various times that he's got this great relationship with Kim, that they're making progress, that these nuclear talks are going to succeed. And we have seen no real indications that the North Koreans have taken any real steps to dismantle the nuclear program.

And a missile launch would just signify that this is not a country that's looking to back down and that is getting along and moving forward with any kind of meaningful talks.

KEILAR: Joseph, the U.S. and North Korea have attempted to negotiate basically a trade. North Korea would give up its nukes and it would trade that for relief from crippling sanctions. It seems though it's very unlikely North Korea is going to hold up its side of that bargain. So what does North Korea really see as the ideal endgame here?

YUN: Well, I think North Korea see that they have shown their capability both in missiles and nuclear arsenal and they believe the price has gone up and that it is time for the United States to deliver on (INAUDIBLE) before they begin (INAUDIBLE). I believe that it was the (INAUDIBLE). They really do not accept that price has gone up while North Korea has insisted that United States and (INAUDIBLE) must pay a higher prices.

Now, the failure of the (INAUDIBLE) really has been (INAUDIBLE). One is we have failed, meaning that (INAUDIBLE). First, North Korea is everyone's problem, not just the U.S.'s problem. Second failure is really failure to bring China together. China has the market with great (INAUDIBLE) and the ongoing trade war certainly has not (INAUDIBLE).

KEILAR: Matthew, I want to turn to Russia now, because Vladimir Putin says Russia is leading the world, developing an entire new class of weapons, this hypersonic missile that we were talking about. Tell us about these and tell us where the U.S. is on this.

ROSENBERG: So hypersonic missiles are kind of what they say they are. They're hypersonic. They're supposed to be incredibly fast. They could basically overcome every missile defense I think that we've come up with. You could use them to take out ships, to take out (INAUDIBLE), you can take out take out an aircraft carrier potentially.

The U.S. is developing them as well, so is China. It's unclear where everyone is in this development stage. Putin had said last year that there would be a hypersonic missile debuting in 2019. That hasn't happened. So just because Vladimir Putin says they have it doesn't necessarily mean they do. By we're all inching that direction.

And so it raises a bunch of -- what do you do here? Do you create arms control treaties? Do you end up in an arms race? There are a lot of things to think about. This is a complicated situation, on top of which we know the president has not shown himself kind of particularly inclined to treaties that limit U.S. power. They pulled out of the intermediate nuclear range treaty. There's another nuclear treaty with Russia coming up in 2021, which kind of a new start treaty that caps nuclear weapons at about 1,500 a piece.

Are we going to continue that, stop it? Are we going to kind of continue the arms race in new weapons technologies? That's the real question here. And I don't really see anybody in the White House or kind of in Washington thinking about it at the moment.


KEILAR: That's very alarming. Matthew Rosenberg, thank you so much, Joseph Yun, I really appreciate it. Happy Holidays to you both.

ROSENBERG: Thank you. Happy Holidays.

KEILAR: Would you fly on a 737 Max jet? As Boeing addresses safety concerns following two deadly crashes involving the Max, they're seeking feedback from travelers and preparing protocols for handling panic attacks that could happen as airlines reintroduce the planes back into their fleets.

Plus, as millions travel for the holiday season, health officials are warning of measles scares at five U.S. airports.

And taking care of those who have served the country in uniform and their families, how one organization is supporting military families during the most trying times in their lives.



KEILAR: Boeing wants to know if you are afraid to fly their planes. The New York Times is reporting that the company has asked thousands of passengers if they would be too scared to fly on the currently grounded 737 Max jet when it eventually comes back into service. And you might remember, the jets were pulled from airline fleets after two crashes that killed 346 people in just a matter of months.

CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich is joining us now. And, Vanessa, one of the things that really strikes me most about your report here is that they're prepping protocols for panic attacks. I mean, they're realizing just how apprehensive the flying public may be about getting back in this plane.

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Brianna. And this is according to The New York Times reporting. They've got their hands on some documents that said that Boeing has been surveying passengers, thousands of them around the world for the past six months now. And they found that 40 percent of passengers say they do not want to get back on that plane. And that is what they said this month and that is also what they said in October. So that is unchanged.

But to your point, Brianna, really interesting that just last week, according to The New York Times, Boeing has been reaching out to airlines and making suggestions about how airlines can deal with passengers who may be nervous to get back on these planes. They're making suggestions that if at the gate a passenger becomes nervous finding out that they're on that airplane, that the agent could reassign them to another airplane, another flight or even asking the pilot to come out and reassure that passenger that the flight will be okay. Even in midair, if someone has a panic attack about being on this plane, they're suggesting for the flight attendants to treat this as a medical emergency.

So, clearly, you have Boeing really putting out there the worst case scenario for airlines and trying to get ahead of it, Brianna.

KEILAR: It's really stunning to me. Is this something that's been done before, or is this just very out of the ordinary?

YURKEVICH: We know that Boeing communicates with airlines regularly. Obviously, this is a very specific issue. These are two horrific crashes, you know, where 346 people lost their lives. We asked Boeing about this. Here is what they told us in a statement. I want to read it to you.

They said that we routinely engage with our airline customers' communications team to seek their feedback and brief them on our latest plans. Each airline is different in their needs, so we provide a wide range of documents and assistance that they can choose to use or tailor as they see fit.

And, Brianna, this is coming after just earlier this week when Boeing fired their CEO, basically saying that he didn't exactly deal with this situation in the best way, now installing a new CEO. But what these documents really showed that The New York Times got their hands on is that Boeing is keenly aware that they have a lot of trust to win back, not only from passengers but also from the airlines, Brianna.

KEILAR: Vanessa Yurkevich, thank you so much for that report. Merry Christmas to you.

YURKEVICH: Merry Christmas, Brianna. Thank you.

KEILAR: A record number of people are traveling by air this holiday. And coming up, multiple airports around the country are warning travelers they may have been exposed to measles during this holiday travel season.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I consider it really an irony that you have one of the most contagious viruses known to man juxtaposed against one of the most effective vaccines that we have. And yet we don't do and have not done what could be done.



KEILAR: A measles scare is adding to already hectic holiday travel, as CNN's Athena Jones reports multiple U.S. airports are now warning travelers that they may have been exposed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This holiday week could come with an unwanted and dangerous surprise, measles. Authorities say people infected with the highly contagious virus traveled through at least five airports in recent days and may have exposed others to the disease, just the latest in a string of similar incidents this year, now happening at the busiest time to travel.

An unidentified person visited the airport and several over locations around Austin, Texas between December 14th and December 17th, including a restaurant, a grocery store and a Target.

DR. MARK ESCOTT, AUSTIN PUBLIC HEALTH: That individual became ill on December the 14th and developed a rash on December the 17th. On that same day, December 17th, he boarded a flight from Austin to Chicago, United Flight 790, that was a connecting flight to Virginia.

JONES: Health officials are working to inform people who may have been exposed.

ESCOTT: It's important to remember that measles can be a deadly disease.

JONES: In Chicago, health officials are investigating possible measles exposures around the same time at O'Hare Airport and two restaurants. The State of Virginia is investigating possible exposures at the Richmond Airport and a doctor's office.

On December 11th, three unvaccinated children with measles visiting from New Zealand likely exposed travelers at Denver and Los Angeles International Airports. The CDC is contacting passengers who flew on the same planes.

The measles virus spreads through coughing and sneezing and can live in the air for up to two hours.


Symptoms can include a high fever, cough, runny nose, pink eye and, of course, a red, splotchy rash.