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Pelosi Privately Signaling She Plans to Send Impeachment Articles to Senate in Next 24 Hours; Interview with Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) About Articles of Impeachment Going to the Senate; Graham Compares Trump's Speech to Reagan's "Tear Down the Wall"; Trump Rolling Back 50-Year-Old EPA Regulations. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 9, 2020 - 15:30   ET




BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: More breaking news on the investigation into the plane crash in Iran that killed 176 people this week. We have learned today that U.S. officials believe Iran unintentionally shot down the jet with its missiles. Iran is denying that.

But moments ago it did reverse a decision to invite the United States, quote, as the manufacturer of Boeing to be present for the investigation. That is according to Iranian media. CNN is reaching out to Boeing for a response.

Now it may be the only aspect of impeachment that gets bipartisan support. A growing number of Democrats are joining Republicans urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to hand over those articles of impeachment to the Senate so that this trial can begin.

Senator Dianne Feinstein says, quote, the longer it goes on the less urgent it becomes. Senator Manchin says, quote, I think it's time to turn the articles over. Speaker Pelosi says the handover will probably be soon but she insists she needs to see assurances that the Senate will hold an impartial proceedings.


NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA): Now in terms of impeachment, you all keep asking me the same question, and I keep giving you the same answer. As I said right from the start, we need to see the arena in which we are sending our managers. Is that too much to ask?


BALDWIN: Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi is a member of both the oversight and intelligence committees. So Congressman Krishnamoorthi, thank you so much for being with me. Got a lot to get to.

So first of all, sources are telling Dana Bash here at CNN that Speaker Pelosi is signaling that she may move on the impeachment in the next maybe 24 hours? What are you hearing?

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI, (D-IL): I really don't have any information about that, quite honestly. She did say in her press conference that she's going to be moving soon. And I think she just wants Mitch McConnell to basically put in writing what he claims has received majority support in the Senate. And so the question is why he doesn't want to do that. It's only fair to know what the rules are before the articles are turned over as well.

BALDWIN: Just on the fact that she has held onto them, you know, Congressman, for three weeks now, what is she getting for doing this?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, I think that her holding those articles actually initiated the discussion of witnesses and additional documents, especially in light of the new information that we learned over the holidays with regard to the reasoning. The reasoning that the White House put forward for why they were withholding aid.

And actually, what happened and the freak-out -- sorry to use that term -- that was happening among Defense Department officials about withholding the aid, saying that it was illegal. There's no good reason for holding it back, and so that just raises the question of why.

And as we established through evidence in the House impeachment inquiry, it was because the President wanted the Ukrainian President to launch or announce an investigation of the President's domestic political rivals.

BALDWIN: Congressman, I'm still back, though, on, you know, what Nancy Pelosi's getting out of holding the articles and you said documents and witnesses. Maybe you've heard something that we certainly haven't, but on the Senate side are you hearing about them saying yes to witnesses or new documents? Because we haven't.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, as you know, when Mitch McConnell first started making statements about the trial, he basically said he's going to be walking in lockstep so to speak with the White House, and there would be potentially no witnesses. Later on he modified his proposal for rules in the Senate to involve witnesses to be called later after the trial commences, so that was movement on his part. That being said, he still will not put in writing what he said publicly, and the question is why. Is it just petulance, or is he trying to hide something?

BALDWIN: What about -- speaking of witnesses, I mean, you have former National Security Adviser John Bolton who, you know, in the last week said that he's willing to testify in a Senate trial if they subpoena him. But what about you and your House members? Like, why hasn't your committee subpoenaed him?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Sure. We tried, but his attorney basically said they would litigate it. He was not going to appear before a House committee without a court order, which as you know, would have taken months and months.

BALDWIN: But could you not still do that now that he's offering up testimony to be subpoenaed?


KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, given that he is still proceeding with a litigation strategy with regard to the House, but he's willing to comply with a subpoena in the Senate, and now we're moving to a Senate trial, it makes all the sense for the Senate to subpoena him and then him to comply and come forward.

The one thing I'll just point out is, as you know, a lot of fact witnesses Fiona Hill, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and others who worked for him said the he called withholding aid in return for these political investigations an illicit drug deal.

He never publicly or privately or otherwise disputed that, but it's good to hear that from him in person, and that's why he should come forward in the Senate.

BALDWIN: Let me just pivot, Congressman, to what's happened in the last couple of days with regard to the Iran and just given the classified briefing you received yesterday and then the evidence you were presented, do you feel like the strike on Qasem Soleimani was justified?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I've now seen six hours -- I've been part of six hours of intelligence briefings including two today, two hours today. I have yet to see intelligence that backs up the President's assertion of an imminent threat in which he was involved, but most importantly that those threats would not unfold even without him being alive.

But the damage has been done, so to speak, in that the Iranians are unified. Unfortunately, we are isolated, and they are running as far away from denuclearization as possible, which is the wrong direction we want them to be going in.

BALDWIN: All right, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, we are all keeping our ear to the ground just back to the impeachment to, you know, Speaker Pelosi and when she may hand those articles over to the Senate, and we'll have another conversation when she does. Thank you so much.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Yes, ma'am. Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And happy new year to you.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Happy new year.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

A provocative new ad takes aim at evangelical support for President Trump saying if this is the best American Christians can do, God help us all. So we'll play part of that.

Also, a top Republican in Congress claims Democrats are, quote, in love with terrorists. Former Governor John Kasich joins me to talk about it all, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)





BALDWIN: It is one of the most iconic moments of the Reagan presidency, and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham just compared that landmark speech to the one President Trump made Wednesday on Iran.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): This speech will be talked about long after his second term. This is on par with tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev.


BALDWIN: CNN political commentator John Kasich is a former Governor of Ohio, former Republican Presidential candidate, was in Congress for a long, long time. Was the speech we saw yesterday on par?



KASICH: I would say, look, what I'm pleased about is that the President lowered the tension. OK. Iran has gone out of their way to lower the tensions. Now the issue gets to be, Brooke, can we somehow through entire immediate intermediaries be able to get back to the table?

Because we want to restrain their nuclear development. We want to restrain their ballistic missile development, which we know can be very powerful, and we want to stop their interfering with all these groups throughout the Middle East. It's going to take negotiation.

Now, with the President lowering the bar, with the Iranians making it clear they didn't want to take -- it appears as though they said they didn't want to take lives, but they wanted to take an action. I believe there's now an exit ramp that exists.

But we can't jump to conclusions because the Iranians historically have made an attack, and then they've waited and in their own time they hid behind somebody else. We don't know. But if we can have our allies and ourselves and intermediaries beginning to talk to Iran, perhaps there is a way to diffuse -- it's a longer-term strategy.

That's what we have to deal with, and when the President says they're not going to get a nuclear weapon, what does that mean? I mean how's he going to do that? He said the same things about North Korea, and we haven't seen any real significant improvement.

So look, I'm glad we are where we are, but we're not out of the woods, but maybe there's an opportunity.

BALDWIN: But the speech was not at all -- as you laughed off Lindsey Graham's. Why --

KASICH: That was like comparing it to John Kennedy in Berlin. You remember when he was there with his wife, Jackie. These were iconic moments. I don't know. I don't know. They're all caught in a whirlwind down there of sort of being hyperbolic.

BALDWIN: Yes. Just a little bit.

KASICH: A little bit, yes.

BALDWIN: Well, the President is known for a little bit of hyperbole, but I want you to listen to one of his loudest supporters in the House talk about the opposing party.


REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): They're in love with terrorists. We see that. They mourn Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families who are the ones who suffered under Soleimani. That's a problem.


BALDWIN: So before I tee you up, let me just say this, because critics -- if he's saying Democrats are in love with terrorists, then as critics are pointing out, what does that mean that Doug Collins is in love with a guy who insulted Captain Humayun Kahn's parents. Lied about Sergeant La David Johnson's widow. Attacked Congresswoman Dingell and her husband, World War II veteran John Dingell might be in hell, and also belittled John McCain because he was a prison of war.

KASICH: They all have to knock it off, Brooke. Because name calling does matter.


When I read what this Congressman from Georgia said this morning, I wanted to send it to my folks and say I need to put out a statement on it.

You can't be making these kind of claims that they love terrorists. I mean, there's no American that feels that way, particularly members of Congress. So when you say things like that, you're poisoning the well, and that's not the way we're supposed to function as a country.

Now maybe he got caught up in some television interview, but completely inappropriate, and I'd say any of these vicious personal attacks on Donald Trump, our President, are also inappropriate, but this man way, went way over the line.

BALDWIN: OK. Let me play another clip. This is anti-Trump group called the Lincoln Project. They've just released this video, the MAGA church, Make America Great Again church. It aims to, quote, highlight the hypocrisy of those who claim the mantle of Jesus while supporting or ignoring President Donald Trump's immoral acts.

That's a quote, George Conway, Kellyanne Conway's husband is part of this group as is Republican Rick Wilson among others. Here's a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am confident that the lord is at work here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's had a change of heart.


PAULA WHITE, PROSPERITY GOSPEL PASTOR: If you do not write that P.O. box and you do not call that toll-free number ---

You're going to write your checks to Paula White Ministry.

Or you will never see sustainment in your life, and your dream will die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump is a test, whether you're even saying

TRUMP: I can act differently for different people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somehow God put him in this position.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And everybody said, amen.

TRUMP: I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.


BALDWIN: I mean, do you think that will persuade any pro-Trump evangelicals in this country? It's quite an ad?

KASICH: Well, here's what I can tell you. I have actually spoken to the editor, he's now retired, of "Christianity Today" and I've followed this closely. People in the country need to understand that Evangelicals are divided.

There is a strong group that supported the editorial in "Christianity Today," a very strong group. But there's also a group that has really significantly attacked them. The community is divided.

And why? One group takes a look at policies. The other one is taking a look at something that I happen to think is more significant, and that is the attitude he brings to healing, the attitude that he brings to not demonizing people. That's one of the reasons why I haven't supported this man.

But we should know that the Evangelicals themselves are split, and we'll have to see how this develops. There's a lot of them that have shaken their head at their brothers and sisters who are sort of blindly supporting.

I mean, I've seen some -- you know one thing that bothers me? When I see some of them hanging out at Mar-a-Lago. Don't get close to power like that. You have a different mission in life, and sometimes it's to warn those in power.

BALDWIN: Governor John Kasich.

KASICH: All right. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Today President Trump announces the rollback of an environmental policy that's been in place for 50 years. He says it will speed up infrastructure projects, but environmentalists are outraged. We'll tell you why, next.



BALDWIN: President Trump announced a major policy change today rolling back 50-year-old environmental rules. He calls it the National Environmental Policy Act. It would essentially remove the requirement for federal agencies to consider environmental and climate impacts from infrastructure projects.


TRUMP: It's everything. Right now it takes over seven years and often times much longer and seven years is like record time, to complete approvals for a simple highway, the simplest of them. With today's proposed reforms, we will reduce that number by more than 70 percent.


BALDWIN: CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is with me. And Drew, I think most people can relate to infrastructure projects in their hometowns that take a little too long to complete. So why is he getting criticism?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he also, you know, can relate to people who are sick of hearing these kind of stories about how environmental processes are hung up for years and decades on some projects, for the projects that people want.

The problem is he's putting a finite deadline on these. Two years for big projects, one year for smaller projects. And he's allowing the agencies in charge of that to be gutted, dismantled by various budget cuts. Scientists are being pushed aside.

So you're going to have this sped-up procedure on top of these build- up of projects that all want to get pushed through. And then you're going to leave the decisions to the executives in charge of these agencies. And who are they? Brooke, well, in the case of Interior, it's the case

it's an oil lobbyist. And in the case of the EPA, it is coal lobbyist. So environmentalists are up in arms. They plan to challenge this in the courts.

But for right now, better than Trump coming through on yet another one of his campaign pledges to get rid of the bureaucracy and the red tape. This has to do with getting rid of the environmental red tape he feels is blocking construction.

BALDWIN: Got it. Drew, thank you.

Minutes from now, the U.S. House is expected to pass a New War Powers Resolution after President Trump's strike on Iran. So we'll be watching to see if Republicans vote yes. And we're staying on the breaking news that U.S. officials think that deadly plane crash in Iran this week was actually a result of a missile that went awry. Stay here.



BALDWIN: A lot of financial advisers today are getting calls. People wondering how their 409ks are doing. As President Trump attempted to tout the stock market on Twitter, he accidentally cited your mom's cleaning product 409, as in asking how are your 409k's doing.

Of course, the President meant 401ks. And later corrected the tweet, but the internet wasn't letting the President get away with that typo. By the way, stocks have rebounded since the U.S. and Iran backed out from the brink of all out war. Just seconds before the closing bell here, the Dow is up more than 200 points.

I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being with me today. We will see you tomorrow. In the meantime, to Washington we go. The "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.