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Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) Discusses Senate Impeachment Trial; Boeing Employee E-Mails Mock FAA And Safety Of 737 MAX; President Trump Tries To Take Credit For Decline In Cancer Deaths. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 10, 2020 - 07:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Won't the president just veto that?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): It's a resolution so he cannot veto it.

And this is why -- you know, it's a strong message but it is not -- it does not have the force of law. I would like it to be a measure that carries the force of law but I think it is very important for this president to get a bipartisan strong message that he should not go to war with Iran without the authority of an authorization of Congress.

CAMEROTA: I see. So the point is that it would be a bipartisan message and you think that alone --

HIRONO: Strong message.

CAMEROTA: Strong message.

Let's talk about the --

HIRONO: No, that alone won't stop the president from his impulsive actions. We all know that, but we have to do it --

CAMEROTA: But that won't?

HIRONO: -- you know. No, I doubt it because we've seen the president for the last three years take all kinds of impulsive actions and that will not change.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about the impeachment trial in the Senate. Are you ready for Speaker Pelosi to hand over the articles of impeachment?

HIRONO: She's going to hand over the articles of impeachment when she does.

But what I'm focused on is what kind of trial are we going to have in the Senate? Is it going to be a fair trial that includes calling of appropriate relevant witnesses and the production of relevant documents? That's what I'm focused on.

And, Mitch McConnell is just as intent on making sure that none of that happens because he is very much on the page with the president and they're engaging in what I would consider a cover-up for the president's actions.

And I think we really need to bring the conversation of a debate back to the president's action, which was that he shook down the president of another country for his own political purposes, using $400 million of needed aid to Ukraine to get his way. That's what we should be focused on. And there's additional evidence to that point and that's what we should see, but Mitch McConnell doesn't want to do that.

CAMEROTA: Well, I hear you. I mean, there's been a lot of conversation about the process rather than the substance --


CAMEROTA: -- over the past couple of weeks. And I hear you, but the point is in the Senate trial, perhaps they would get back to the substance.

But, Speaker Pelosi's gambit was to hold the articles of impeachment until Mitch McConnell agreed to call witnesses or agreed to what she said would be a fair trial, but she didn't get that.

HIRONO: She said that she wanted to see the rules of the road so that she could appoint appropriate managers to present the case to the Senate. She did not say well, I'm holding out until Mitch McConnell agrees to witnesses.

So let's get back to what we really should be doing, which is -- or focusing on, which is what kind of a trial are we going to have in the senate. Is it going to be a fair trial or is it going to be a rigged trial?

Alisyn, just as the president tried to rig his reelection by trying to get the Ukrainian president to go along with his political scheme, he's trying to, with the help of Mitch McConnell, rig the Senate trial by not calling appropriate witnesses and producing documents.

The president has been stonewalling this impeachment process the whole way and now he has an opportunity in the trial to present his case. And presenting his case means presenting facts and evidence, not saying this is a witch hunt. That is not evidence, that's just rhetorical -- what I call rhetorical --


HIRONO: -- nothingburgers.

CAMEROTA: But if you think -- I mean, it sounds like you have concluded that this is a rigged trial -- that you're not going to get a fair trial from Mitch McConnell. Why go through this?

HIRONO: The Constitution requires us to do it. And one would hope that we would do it in the way that it should be conducted, which is to have witnesses and appropriate documents -- none of which happened, by the way, to a great extent, except for those witnesses who had the courage to withstand the president telling them don't testify. We have their evidence, which is very damning, of what the president did.

So we need to go through with the trial and I think the American people are going to decide for themselves, which they've already said that a trial should have witnesses and documents. They will get to decide what kind of a trial that Mitch McConnell is going to have in the Senate.

Not to mention, Alisyn, that there will be opportunities through various motions. There will be opportunities. There will be required votes that the senators will have to take on whether or not certain witnesses should be called and documents produced.

CAMEROTA: OK. Sen. Mazie Hirono, thank you very much --

HIRONO: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: -- for all of the information and your perspective -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are less than four weeks away until the Iowa caucuses. All kinds of major new developments in the contest. What will see on the debate stage next week? Some key clues, next.



BERMAN: Less than four weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses.

CAMEROTA: You've been saying that for a year.

BERMAN: No, but this time it's really true. They're right around the corner. It's less than four weeks away.

You know what's more? We're less than one week away from a Democratic debate that you will be able to see right here on CNN.

So what is the state of the Democratic race with this key vote just around the corner?

Joining us now is CNN political commentator Michael Smerconish, host of CNN's "SMERCONISH." And, Michael, we will see those Democrats, six of them, at least, on the debate stage next week.

How big of a role do you feel that the tensions with Iran will play and how will it factor into the candidates' posturing on that stage?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, HOST "SMERCONISH": I think it's completely changed the dynamics. I've either attended or watched all of the debates thus far and foreign policy often played second fiddle to the domestic agenda.

If you ask me about a particular issue that dominated, I would say health care. I would say the conversation about Medicare for All. I don't know how foreign policy won't dominate.

So the question then becomes OK, who benefits, who might this be an issue for? I don't think it helps Elizabeth Warren, I don't think it helps Amy Klobuchar. I don't think it helps Mayor Pete, although he's got military service going for him.


The dichotomy that most interests me is between Bernie and Biden because I think as between Sen. -- as between Sen. Bernie Sanders and between Vice President Biden, you get two dramatic views of engagement, especially in the Middle East.

So that's where the debate I think is going to be focused if the debate takes place and we're not in the midst of an impeachment trial.

CAMEROTA: Interesting.

You brought up Mayor Pete and noted that he had military experience. He, I think, tweeted this and he's getting a lot of attention. It's a controversial statement -- or at least Republicans say that it is.

He said, "Innocent civilians are now dead because they were caught in the middle of an unnecessary and unwanted military tit for tat. My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of all 176 souls lost aboard this flight."

Why is that a controversial thought?

SMERCONISH: Well, it's a controversial thought, I guess, in the eyes of the president for -- who would say, first of all, the responsibility, it seems, rests with Iran for the death of those civilians.

Alisyn, you bring to my mind something else, which is to say that the way in which these issues break in primary season, which we're now in the midst of, versus how they'll be portrayed in the general election are going to be significantly different.

For example, I'm thinking of how Vice President Biden will cast himself as the seasoned hand. He's the guy who's been there, he's seen it all. He's ready to retain -- return a steady hand to the rudder.

Should he make it to a general election, you're going to have President Trump say well, wait a minute, you're the guy who didn't want to take out bin Laden by SEAL Team Six at that critical moment.

So the debate is about to take place and it's going to entirely shift, I think, depending on who the Democratic nominee will be.

BERMAN: I think you're exactly right on how Biden is trying to frame this. It's not necessarily about the decisions themselves or the foreign policy per se, he's trying to paint the president as erratic and impulsive and himself as stable. That's the contrast he's drawing there.

Another interesting development and this has to do with the CNN debate which we'll all see next week. These new polls came out. They were Fox News polls from Nevada and South Carolina. We have the South Carolina poll that puts Tom Steyer at 15 percent and

wins him a ticket to the CNN debate next week. So it will be six candidates on stage. Tom Steyer is the sixth.

What do you -- what does it tell you that Steyer has gone up in the polls, maybe other than spending a lot of money on ads can get you a few things?

SMERCONISH: Right. I know, John, that will be the initial reaction from many that it's a reflection of resources. I don't think it's just resources. I think it also speaks to the fluid nature of where we are and what's about to unfold.

When you take a look at the latest polling data on a state-by-state basis in the states of Iowa, and New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and Nevada, you realize that it's entirely possible that you could have three different winners from those four states setting up a momentous day on March the third where you've got so many states casting ballots by the close of which roughly 40 percent of the delegates will be selected.

My point is it's in a great state of flux and it's all going to happen so fast. Alisyn was joking about how we feel like we've been on the verge of this for a long, long time, but now it is finally here.

CAMEROTA: If you say so.

BERMAN: That's another way of saying Alisyn is lost.

CAMEROTA: If you say so. I'm not going to be tricked again. I'm not going to be tricked again --

BERMAN: It's really happening.

CAMEROTA: -- believing it's really right around the corner, but I guess the calendar does suggest that.

Michael Smerconish, thank you very much.

BERMAN: You know how I know it's here --

SMERCONISH: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: -- because you can watch the CNN Democratic presidential debate in partnership with the "Des Moines Register" Tuesday night, just days from now.


BERMAN: That's 9:00 eastern only on CNN.

And I also know this.

CAMEROTA: I'll believe it when I see it.

BERMAN: You can catch "SMERCONISH" tomorrow and every Saturday at 9:00 a.m.

CAMEROTA: That I believe.

All right, also new this morning, Boeing releasing a stack of internal messages sharply critical of the decision and development of the now- grounded 737 MAX jet, and they include communications shared by Boeing employees expressing doubts about the plane's ability to fly.

CNN business and politics correspondent Cristina Alesci is here with more. This sounds serious, Cristina.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: It is very serious and another stain on the company's reputation.

The 737 MAX is the model that was grounded after two crashes killed 346 people on board. And these messages are before the crashes and they shed light on how some employees were troubled about what they were asked to tell regulators before the plane began carrying passengers.

One employee wrote, "'I really would struggle to defend the simulator in front of the FAA next week,' wrote one employee in May 2018. 'Yes, I still haven't been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,' replied another employee, apparently referring to some other event that involved the agency."


Now, another employee described the airplane as designed by clowns who are, in turn, supervised by monkeys.

In one message an employee asked "Would you put your family on a MAX simulator-trained aircraft? I wouldn't." Another employee responding no.

Boeing wanting to recover its reputation and trust with regulators and customers, trying to put this behind them and issuing a statement saying, "These communications do not reflect the company we are and need to be, and they are completely unacceptable. We regret the content of these messages and apologize to the Federal Aviation Administration, Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them."

Now, Boeing's chief regulator, the FAA, has already seen the documents since Boeing sent them to the agency in December. The regulator -- and this is important -- said it didn't find anything in the documents to point that the safe -- to point to safety risks that weren't already identified.

The 737 -- however, the MAX is still grounded. The company is working with regulators to get it back in the air, which is a critical mission for the company at this point. Certainly, another big hurdle for the company to get over -- Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right. Cristina Alesci, thanks very much for that.

So, millions facing a tornado threat in the south as the northeast warms up with springlike temperatures.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers with the forecast -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, a big weather system here in the Plains. Like you said, millions under this big threat. This is a spring-type storm with hail, wind, and damaging tornadoes today and tomorrow, and more to come north of that.

This weather is brought to you by Celebrity Cruises. Go to to book your award-winning vacation today.

So let's get to it. The storms begin in this afternoon's 2:00 to 3:00 hour -- Tulsa and Dallas. And then all of a sudden, by 6:00, this entire area erupts in rotating tornadic thunderstorms.

This is March or April on the calendar because we don't see this thing in January every year. This is a major spring-type event. And even for tomorrow, the weather moves slightly farther to the east.

Now to the north. Waukegan, Chicago, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Cadillac -- you guys are in for a major ice event and I'm not saying this lightly. This will put millions of people without power, with power lines down with this icing event. Sleet, freezing rain, and snow. Travel will be impossible up here.

Some places may see one inch of frozen ice on power lines. They can't hold that. There's just no possible way every line is going to stay up. This is going to be a major ice storm for the people of the Midwest.

And look at this. Temperatures in the 60s and 70s for the east coast, so big changes.

CAMEROTA: I'll say, and some of that makes no sense.


CAMEROTA: But you did it perfectly, Chad. Thank you very much.

All right, some good news to report this morning. The number of cancer cases in the U.S. are at a record low. For some reason, President Trump is taking credit for this.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us with a closer look at what is really driving these rates down.



CAMEROTA: Here's to your health and great news. Cancer rates have gone down.

But scientists disagree with this tweet by President Trump. Quote, "U.S. cancer death rate lowest in recorded history. A lot of good news coming out of this administration" -- end quote. The head of the American Cancer Society says the insinuation that the Trump administration has anything to do with this is misleading.

U.S. cancer death rates did hit a record low in 2017 but researchers credit prevention, early detection, and treatment advances; not the president.

CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us live to explain. This is great news, so how did it happen?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Alisyn. And what's the old saying -- success has a thousand fathers and failures an orphan.

There's no question this is a success when it comes to cancer. We report a lot about cancer and the various new therapies and treatment preventions -- preventions, rather.

But I want you to take a look at this graph that shows you exactly sort of what's happened over the last several years, specifically, more with men even then with women.

In the 1930s, you see these cancer rates sort of going up consistently until about the early 1990s. And then, as you mentioned, there has been a pretty steady drop -- 29 percent. That equates to nearly three million cancer deaths prevented over the last -- you know, since 1991, so there is significant findings here.

I will point out that look, cancer deaths still the number-two cause of death in this country. Overall, they expect close to two million to be diagnosed with cancer and 600,000 deaths, so there's still a lot of work to be done. But those numbers and that trend, I think tells a really important story.

BERMAN: A lot of this has to do with lung cancer, yes --


BERMAN: -- and smoking rates, Sanjay?

GUPTA: Yes, no question. I mean, there's many things that go into this. Again, prevention, early detection, treatment. But lung cancer, which is the deadliest cancer, John -- that's where the most impact has been made.


And, you know, you look overall just at smoking rates -- 45 million people. I don't know how people sort of think about how many people smoke in this country but in 2005, it was 45 million, and most recent data, 34 million. So, a significant drop in smoking. That's a big part of this.

I will say, as well, John, one of the things we talk about on this program quite a bit is vaping. And that's part of the reason we talk about vaping so much because you now have six million middle and high school students who are vaping. And according to the National Center on Drug Abuse, about one-third of them, roughly, will go on to then try combustible cigarettes and that's why you could start to see reversal in these important good trends because of something like vaping.

BERMAN: And it would be a shame to see those numbers start to go up after the trend down.

Sanjay, thanks so much for the truth here -- appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BERMAN: So, the last several days simply haven't been normal at all, and the scary part is how normal that's becoming.

John Avlon explains all that in our reality check.


So you probably heard the one about the frog and the pot. You try to toss a frog in a boiling pot of water and it's going to jump right out. But if you slowly heat the water up the frog will swim around until it's cooked. And normalization in our politics could feel the same way and the last two days really brought it home.

On Wednesday, President Trump addressed the nation with the good news that Iran seems to have stood down, at least for now. But it was almost unremarkable that in his rambling 10-minute speech the president uttered a string of half-truths, insults, and innuendoes -- which were written in the teleprompter -- like this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.


AVLON: Accusing Obama of funding weapons fired at our troops is not true and it's not remotely normal.

But then what Trump said about Democrats last night at a rally in Toledo, Ohio wasn't normal either.


TRUMP: They're vicious, horrible people. They're horrible people.


AVLON: But we are becoming accustomed to this kind of vicious, horrible rhetoric from an American president and hyperpartisans lose all reason trying to defend it. So it's not enough to say it was a good speech on Iran -- you've got to say it was the greatest speech.


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.


AVLON: No, it's not, but that kind of fact-free sycophancy is becoming commonplace.

Here's V.P. Mike Pence trying to explain Trump's plan for NATO to get more involved in the Middle East.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This president has done more to strengthen NATO --


PENCE: -- than any president in my lifetime.


AVLON: You'd have to have the memory of a firefly to believe that one.

But, then here's how much thought President Trump seems to have given to putting Mideast and NATO.


TRUMP: You'll call it NATO-ME. I said what a beautiful name -- NATO- ME. I'm good at names, right?


AVLON: No matter what he says or does Republicans have to back it up or pay the price.

So, when Utah Sen. Mike Lee said he wasn't buying the administration's claims of an imminent attack, here's what Lou Dobbs said.


LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS ANCHOR, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Sen. Lee's Benedict Arnold impression.


AVLON: Benedict Arnold was, of course, a literal traitor to the American Revolution.

But that's small ball compared to what some Trumpers are calling Democrats.


REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): They are in love with terrorists -- we see that. They mourn Soleimani more than they mourn our Gold Star families.


AVLON: There's only one politician I know who has attacked a Gold Star family and that's Donald Trump.

But saying Democrats love terrorists, that's not remotely normal or true but it was probably isolated. I mean, a responsible Republican, like the former U.N. ambassador, wouldn't say anything like that, right?


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The only ones that are mourning the loss of Soleimani are our Democrat leadership and our Democrat presidential candidates.


AVLON: This stuff's getting in the water, folks.

And while all that's been going on, yesterday, President Trump claimed credit for a decline in cancer deaths.

His administration announced it would roll back 50-year-old bipartisan environmental requirements for major oil and gas pipelines.

And, "The Washington Post" reported that his treasury secretary is trying to block disclosure of Secret Service travel expenses until after the election, perhaps because Trump has spent one out of every five days at his golf resorts on your dime after railing against Obama's weekend golf games.

And finally, Facebook announced it would continue to allow politicians to lie in their digital ads.

The bottom line, we're watching disinformation and division get dialed up, heating up the hate in our politics to the boiling point. And if we accept all of this as the new normal we won't recognize how much it disfigured our democracy until it's too late.

And that's your reality check.

BERMAN: John, we'll be talking about that reality check for generations, long after we're all gone. That will be etched in stone on the nation's -- it wasn't just good, it was the best ever.

CAMEROTA: Well, I agree with that.

AVLON: The best ever. Better than tear down this wall.

BERMAN: Better than tear down this wall. CAMEROTA: I don't think we're exaggerating because some of the sound bites you used were so eyebrow-raising I had to keep jerking my head over to look at the screen right now.

AVLON: You might want to see a doctor about that.

CAMEROTA: Thank you -- all right. Thank you very much for all of that.

And thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, new details of what brought down that passenger plane in Iran. NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, January 10th.