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Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) is Interviewed on Iran; December Jobs Report; Canada Mourns Plane Crash Victims; Safety After Iranian General's Death; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired January 10, 2020 - 08:30   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Was actively planning new attacks and he was looking very seriously at our embassies, and not just the embassy in Baghdad. But we stopped him. And we stopped him quickly. And we stopped him cold.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the president did not provide any proof to back up that claim.

Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier. She's a member of both the Armed Services and Intelligence Committee.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Good morning.

BERMAN: Congresswoman, you've seen some of this intelligence. You have been briefed. The president said on a stage last night, he said that Soleimani was planning new attacks looking seriously at our embassies.

Did you see that in the intelligence that you have been provided?

SPEIER: All I can tell you, John, is that he misrepresented the intelligence. And I think that what we all have to be very concerned about is that we have 65,000 troops and diplomats in that region that are at risk now because there has been this fatal attack on Soleimani that is creating an interest, not just by Iran, but by Shia militia in Iraq, to provide vengeance to the United States.

BERMAN: Well, what he suggested, though, is that they were at risk because of General Soleimani. So when you say he misrepresented the intelligence, was Soleimani planning attacks on U.S. embassies?

SPEIER: Again, I'm not at liberty to provide you additional information. I apologize for that, but that's one of the requirements being on this committee. All I can tell you is that I believe he misrepresented it.

BERMAN: Overall, in a general sense, the briefings that were provided to Congress at large, there was some concern that the idea of imminence was not proved. Do you feel that way? SPEIER: I do feel very strongly that the argument that was raised that

somehow he had to be killed then and there was because there was an imminent attack pending was not supported by the intelligence. And that's why you saw so much frustration from both Republicans and Democrats as they left that briefing.

BERMAN: All right, I want to ask you about something you did say yesterday to my colleague Wolf Blitzer. After the information came out that there is a belief within the United States, and also the U.K. and Canada, that Iran may have shot down that Ukrainian airliner killing 176 people, this is what you said to Wolf yesterday.


SPEIER: This is yet another example of collateral damage from the actions that have been taken in a provocative way by the president of the United States.


BERMAN: Now, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, a Republican, who was on shortly after you, took issue with that statement.



REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): This name-calling that has escalated and blaming the president for the Iranian airliner shoot-down? We are broken as a country if this is the level of our debate going forward.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: She used the phrase "collateral damage." Does that mean anything to you?

KINZINGER: No. I mean collateral damage is 176 dead people that Iran shot down.


BERMAN: Are you blaming the president in any way for the fact that it appears that Iran shot down that jetliner?

SPEIER: No, but I am saying that but for the escalation in the actions taken by Iran, there would not be 176 people dead today. It all emanates from the killing of Soleimani.

BERMAN: Well, again, the administration would say that Soleimani himself was plotting attacks on Americans, so the attack on Soleimani itself emanates from Soleimani. But just to be clear, it was Iran that shot down apparently that jet.

What culpability do they have? How do you think they should be held to account for that?

SPEIER: Well, I think that will certainly be something that will be considered, not by just the United States and Canada and other countries, but certainly it needs to be looked at from, you know, many perspectives. I mean if it was accidental, that certainly needs to be taken into account as well.

But we need to remember how this all started. This has started from the time the president of the United States reneged on the nuclear deal that we had with Iran and then imposed severe sanctions on Iran that has hurt them economically, then called the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. He keeps ramping it up. And the result is that they respond.

We should be at the negotiating table trying to develop a plan for peace, trying to develop a new JCPOA if necessary with the president's infermoder (ph) on it so that we don't have Iran building nuclear weapons.

BERMAN: Again, all I'll say is that there are Republicans who make the case that rather than blame Iran for shooting down this plane, if that's what happened, you bring up U.S. actions when ultimately it should be Iran that is culpable and responsible for that, if that's, in fact, the case.


SPEIER: There's no question that if, in fact, they're responsible, if the evidence supports that, that they have to take responsibility. But what generated them shooting missiles in the air was the fact that they were providing vengeance or a tit-for-tat to the United States for having killed their general.

BERMAN: There has been a development overnight in regards to Iraq and Iraqi troops. The Iraqi prime minister has sent a letter to Mike Pompeo, the U.S. secretary of state, suggesting that the United States send representatives to Iraq to put forward mechanisms to implement the Iraqi parliament's decision to ensure safe withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

What do you see as the significance there?

SPEIER: Well, they have an internal issue that they're dealing with now. The Iraqis are now not in unison in support of the United States. There is a growing sentiment against the United States, as there is in Iran. So we will have to comply to a certain extent. I think that there will always be an interest in wanting to have peacekeepers on the ground or advisers on the ground. It certainly is to our advantage to have a small footprint there because it helps us make sure that these various terrorist cells do not crop up and gain momentum.

BERMAN: What would the effect be of a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq?

SPEIER: Well, it depends how many. Right now we've actually increased the number of troops in Iraq substantially. There's more than 15,000 more troops there than there were six months ago. And so we have, as I said earlier, 65,000 people in that region. So I think that what we need to do is negotiate and recognize that they've got a domestic problem, a domestic political problem, and we've got to respect that. BERMAN: Joe Lockhart, on our show a few minutes ago, talking about

impeachment was speculating that Nancy Pelosi will send the articles of impeachment over to the Senate today. Do you think it will happen today?

SPEIER: It's going to happen when she's ready. And I think the real interesting part of all of this is we have a powerful woman who's asserting her power and it's making some men very uncomfortable. And I say, you know, she has done a very good job of articulating why she is holding these articles. It's because she wants to make sure there's a fair trial in the Senate.

When you have to take a special oath in the Senate to say that you will make sure that there will be impartial justice done, according to the Constitution, and you have Mitch McConnell saying he's working hand in hand with the president, that makes a mockery of that particular trial. So she's trying to make sure that Bolton and others, Duffey in particular, and Mitch -- and Mick Mulvaney are there to testify because they actually rejected subpoenas, defied subpoenas that were issued by the House.

BERMAN: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, great to have you on this morning. Thanks so much for being with us.

SPEIER: Thank you.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, John, the new jobs report is out. Christine Romans brings us the numbers, next.



CAMEROTA: Breaking news.

The Labor Department just released the December jobs report.

Let's get right to our chief business correspondent Christine Romans with the numbers.


CAMEROTA: What are you seeing?

ROMANS: You know, I'm going to call this a solid finish to the year, but not sizzling. And here's why.

You saw October, November, both revised down a little bit there. So that's the weakest. December was the weakest month since May when we had only 62,000 net new jobs.

The unemployment rate, though, stays near this 3.5 percent. This is really low, 3.5 percent there. One wonders, though, why at 3.5 percent unemployment wages only grew 2.9 percent. That's been the riddle of this recovery, the missing piece, the underbelly of a strong labor market. You haven't seen working people rejoicing with higher paychecks just yet. I thought that would happen in 2019. It really hasn't yet.

Let's look at the sectors here overall. Retail trade, another strong month there. Health care, about 400,000 health care jobs for the whole year. That has been a steady performer. Any kind of politician talking about whatever they want to do in health care, remember, this has been the driver of the economy.

Manufacturing lost another 12,000 jobs, you guys. It's not been a good year for manufacturing. Up for the year, up just a tiny bit, but really what you're seeing there essentially is a recession in manufacturing.

Quickly, we now have the whole year. This is what the year looks like, 2.1 million net new jobs. Not as good as the tax cut fueled last year. And, really, what pretty much average of what we've seen over the past maybe eight or nine years, guys.

BERMAN: All right, Christine Romans, thanks very much for that. We'll be talking about that a lot more today.

In the meantime, Canada is mourning 63 of its citizens killed on the Ukrainian plane that was shot down by Iran, according to western intelligence. U.S. officials now believe it was Iran that shot it down. The victims' families are now sharing their grief and disbelief.

CNN's Paula Newton has their stories.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's the smiles that are so searing, an indelible reminder of all that's been lost.

At this vigil in Toronto, friends, families, strangers tried to take in the magnitude of a tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Words cannot express the sorrow and the pain that the family are going through. It's just unbelievable.

NEWTON: Rosie, who did not want her last name used, could not believe her family friend, Muhammad Iliasi (ph), was married in Iran just last week and then boarded Flight 752.

For many here, the grief is still so raw. And then they learned the airliner may have been shot out of the sky by Iran. They can't make sense of it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are they going to respond to the parents of the children of the loss of their son, daughters, husbands, wife? It's -- this is so surreal.

NEWTON: At least 63 Canadians died, but the vast majority of the passengers, 138, we're connecting to Canada, many returning to lives here. NEWTON (on camera): Vigils like this are going on right across the

country. So many Canadians can really relate to the stories of these victims. People really living their dreams, trying to make a better life in a second home.

NEWTON (voice over): Many of them call Edmonton home and there they mourned students, academics, doctors, people whose life stories as new Canadians resonated with so many.

Hamed Esmaeilion says he still can't believe his wife Parisa (ph) and his daughter Rira (ph) are never coming home to him.

HAMED ESMAEILION, LOST WIFE AND DAUGHTER IN PLANE CRASH: So (INAUDIBLE) called and (INAUDIBLE) is absent. Usually she is not. And I told them that, OK, we (INAUDIBLE) be absent forever. So that was a hard moment for me.

NEWTON: In Montreal, the Canadians joined the Edmonton Oilers in a moment of silence. The scene repeated during games across the country.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined an Ottawa vigil with others looking for comfort.

ARDY GHARAGOZLI, LOST FAMILY FRIEND IN PLANE CRASH: We were family friends. I used to call her "aunt."

NEWTON: Ardy Gharagozli is heartbroken, losing Binaz Ibrahimi (ph) and her son, Ramtem (ph), but he's also angry about the politics now intruding on his grief.

GHARAGOZLI: But even if it's Iran to blame, is on USA. If President Trump wouldn't ordered the drone strike on Qasem Soleimani, all this wouldn't happen. We wouldn't be here today grieving, you know.

NEWTON: The implication, these precious lives are now collateral damage in an American/Iranian conflict still being waged.


NEWTON: And, John, I know that is a controversial opinion. That anger does exist here. You guys were just debating it on the show, right? This is a country that is absolutely shattered right now from coast to coast. They are looking for answers. And, make no mistake, they are also looking for answers from Iran because, at the end of the day, they say most of these passengers were also Iranian citizens.


BERMAN: Oh, it is such a tragedy for so many families, 176 people killed, who really want those answers and soon.

We do have some major, new developments in that investigation.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just speaking to the president of Ukraine about all of this. All the new developments, next.



CAMEROTA: It was one week ago today that the U.S. killed Iran's top general. Are we safer today or more at risk?

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political analyst David Gregory.

Do you have your crystal ball with you, David? I mean how do you assess this week?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think we end the week in a better place. I mean I think it was certainly pretty frightening. I mean after taking out Soleimani, looking at how things were escalating and how quickly, we could be in a different place.

There was clearly a move by the Iranians to do something limited, to avoid American casualties. The president responded by keeping things in check, opening up the prospect of talks and another nuclear deal with Iran. That's good as far as it goes.

The difficulty is, you still have to wonder whether this is the end, whether Iran is done responding. This was a big, provocative move taking out Soleimani. And the United States doesn't want to be in the Middle East. And now we're talking about removing forces from Iraq. It's really hard to see how you fix the Iran problem if you don't have forces on the ground to be a kind of deterrent in Iraq and other areas where our forces and our interests could be vulnerable.

BERMAN: And, in fact, that's one of the developments over just the last few hours, which I think we haven't covered quite enough, which is the Iraqi prime minister has now asked Mike Pompeo to come up with a plan. Send people to come over to come up with a plan for removing the U.S. troops. The Iraqis seem to be moving forward with their request to get rid of Americans there.

GREGORY: Right. And, you know, a lot of presidents want to get out of the Middle East, and the Middle East has a way of drawing you back in. And I think that's the case, too.

I think that there's a sense that President Trump has, which is that, oh, we do this, and now I've moved on. I'm ready to move on to the next thing. The world doesn't work that way. And his secretary of state is saying, no, we want to confront and contain Iran.

The confronting part has been rather clear by what the administration has done. And maybe the result of this will be very positive. I still hold that out there as a definite option. But it's going to require a lot of leadership. It's going to require diplomacy. It's going to require time and it's going to take a lot of the attention in 2020 of this administration. This being an election year.

The president also thinks about this as a potential commander in chief moment, but it's not just a moment. It could be a long-term deal. And that's what we have to watch so carefully.


CAMEROTA: I mean, of course, there was also that unfortunate draft of a letter that was released accidentally that makes it sound as though the Trump administration does want to get out soon, now, of Iraq.

GREGORY: Right. Well, and that was a bureaucratic error. Maybe people not understanding what the real orders are. But the reality is, we have more forces that have gone into the Middle East. We have force protection. We have vulnerable forces in Iraq currently. We have elsewhere in the Persian Gulf there's lots of things and lots of targets for the Iranians or their proxies, the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. So the United States have interests -- has interests that it has to protect, which is the opposite of really pulling out of that region saying we don't need their oil. No, the Middle East requires United States leadership, particularly if the president wants, to make sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.

BERMAN: David Gregory, great to have you here for "The Bottom Line."

GREGORY: Thanks.

BERMAN: Have a terrific weekend. Thanks so much for being with us.

GREGORY: You too.

CAMEROTA: OK, so there have been major developments in the shoot-down of that passenger plane by Iran, or I should say the downing of it. But we have all sorts of developments about what different countries think happened.

CNN's coverage continues after this very quick break.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Friday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.

Poppy, what a week.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: What a week it has been.


HARLOW: We're glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

So a cleanup or a cover-up. An eyewitness says large pieces of debris have already been removed from the crash site of a Ukrainian plane that went down over Tehran shortly after takeoff.


The remains of crash victims also being removed for --