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Leading Democratic Presidential Candidates to Debate Ahead of Iowa Caucuses; Elizabeth Warren Criticizes Bernie Sanders for Comment on Challenge to Women Running for President; Interview With Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM). Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 14, 2020 - 08:00   ET

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


Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) is Interviewed About House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Meeting with the Entire Democratic Caucus and the Iran Briefing; Astros Fire GM, Manager in Cheating Scandal. Aired

[08:00:00]

MAYA ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS, (D) U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE: Continue his low blow and low class style of communication, and he always wondered when the hit would come. It came then. And so he was incredibly disappointed in President Trump, and continued to be disappointed in President Trump to the very end.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, thank you for all the insights, and obviously we'll be watching very closely what happens next month with his seat.

CUMMINGS: Thank you, Alisyn. It was my pleasure to be with you.

CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here. John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you to our international viewers for watching. For your, CNN Newsroom is next. For our U.S. viewers, big debate tonight in Iowa, the final debate before the Iowa caucuses. NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Top Democrats take the stage in the final debate before the Iowa caucus.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was disappointed to hear that Bernie is sending his volunteers out to trash me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sanders told Warren he did not believe a woman could win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bernie did not say that a woman could not win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's more than four Republican senators who reportedly are seriously considering having witnesses. SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R-UT): I'm comfortable with the Clinton model.

Opening arguments first, and then we'll have a vote on whether or not to have witnesses.

CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The case is now gaining momentum in the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let the good times roll. LSU sits on the throne of college football.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To do it in New Orleans, this is going to be remembered for a long time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

BERMAN: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, January 14th, 8:00 in the east. We have live pictures to show you. This is outside Drake University, the site of tonight's CNN Democratic debate along with the "Des Moines Register." This is the final debate before the Iowa caucuses. This debate now just hours away. Just six candidates will be on stage. That's the fewest yet, and it is a wide- open race with four candidates bunched at the top of the polls. For half of those candidates, the sitting senators, it might be one last chance to even be in Iowa. They will be in Washington with the Senate impeachment trial potentially beginning as soon as this week.

It's also the first debate since the United States killed Iran's top general. Foreign policy no doubt will be a major topic. And on top of all that, there is brand-new tension between two of the leading contenders, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. How will that play out tonight?

CAMEROTA: And this morning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet with the democratic caucus where she will, we understand, announce who will serve as impeachment managers. Tomorrow she could call a vote to send the impeachment articles to the Senate. This comes as four Republican senators signal that they are open to hearing from witnesses, like former National Security Adviser John Bolton in the impeachment trial. But that doesn't will not be made until after opening arguments.

Here to break it all down we have our CNN political commentators, Joe Lockhart, he's the former White House press secretary for President Clinton, Karen Finney, former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton's campaign, and Paul Begala, Democratic strategist. Great to have all of you. Karen Finney, I will start with you. What are you looking for tonight? What dynamic interests you most?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I certainly think we will see an interesting dynamic play out between Bernie and Warren. But I'll tell you what I bet most voters are looking for. This is the moment where you really have to be pivot to be presidential, right, because right before you go to vote, you want to see a president on the stage. And no doubt also the commander in chief test. Given what's happening with Iran, given the polls that we've seen, people are still very concerned. So they're going to be looking at those candidates saying, is this someone I think can take on Iran? Do they have a plan? No doubt, I suspect Bernie will have a back and forth about who voted for the Iraq war because that's something Bernie tends to bring up a lot. But I think it will be about how do we go forward? How do we revive America's relationships around the world?

BERMAN: That's interesting. And I think that the Biden campaign, Paul, when talking about foreign policy, would rather it be about the idea of current judgment and temperament and stability, and maybe not a debate about past decisions, whether it be the invasion of Iraq and whatnot. So that will be interesting to see how Biden plays that.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right. And I think his aides need to be telling him, don't look in the rear-view mirror. Look in the windshield. The vote to go to war in 2002 was a blank check, and a lot of people who were Democrats who voted for it back then try to reinvent it and reimagine it, trying to pretend, well, I was really trying to put pressure. No. It was a vote for the war, it was wrong. Democrats hate that vote.

But Biden can easily redeem himself by moving forward and looking forward. And for Joe, really, for all these candidates, the most important way to conclude every answer is, and that's why I can beat Donald Trump. That's really what Democrats want to know. I don't they want to relitigate the catastrophic war in Iraq. I think they really want to take a political battle to Donald Trump.

[08:05:00]

CAMEROTA: What are you looking for tonight?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think just to pick up on Paul's point, I think the person who wins the debate will be the one who sort of rises above. And it's going to be very difficult for Sanders and Warren because that will be the dynamic at the beginning. But whether it's Biden, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, or Steyer who says, you know what, we're having the wrong fight here.

The fight we should be having is, how do we keep Obamacare? How do we make sure Social Security and Medicare doesn't get gutted the way President Trump would in a second term? The fight is Trump. And I think there will be a big opportunity, and I think that's sort of a side effect of this Warren/Sanders dust-up, that it gives the other four, particularly probably Biden and Buttigieg, the chance to say, this is silly. We -- anyone on this stage is better than the president. Let's focus on that.

BERMAN: OK. All three of you senior Democrats are saying you hope the focus is on bigger things. There are some other things --

FINNEY: We can have both.

BERMAN: -- that are going on in the Democratic primary, namely this dust-up between Senators Warren and Sanders. And just to bring people up to speed on what it was. CNN's M.J. Lee broke this story yesterday. When she broke it, it was four sources telling her that in a meeting in 2018 between Senators Warren and Sanders, Bernie Sanders, M.J. reported, told Elizabeth Warren that he did not think that a woman could win the presidency in 2020. Elizabeth Warren herself put out a statement last night to that effect. She says "Among the topics that came up in this meeting was what would happen if Democrats nominated a female candidate. I thought a woman could win. He disagreed."

The Sanders campaign vehemently denies this. Jeff Weaver who ran the campaign in 2016 and is now a senior adviser, he was on CNN last night and he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF WEAVER, SANDERS CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: There's some wires crossed here, but clearly Bernie Sanders did not say that a woman could not win. I think their wires are crossed. I think there was discussion about Trump, misogyny, sexism in politics, and the difficulty of running in the era of Trump for women, the special challenges women face in the era of Trump. But those conversations can sometimes get misconstrued, Chris.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Karen, why does this discussion strike a raw nerve for so many within the Democratic Party?

FINNEY: So two things. Number one, who was responding? A man. A white man. Where is the senior woman on his campaign that could have responded to this or spoken to the diversity within his campaign. One of the things that I don't know that Senator Sanders and his current team understand is there is still a lot of animus among a lot of women about the Bernie bros, about how a lot of things went down in 2016 that I don't think they've actually addressed.

And then secondly, I think for a lot of us, we're just enraged at this conversation about can a woman win? I like to remind people that Hillary did win by 3 million votes. Sure, we have the 70,000 that would have gotten us the Electoral College, but we have to stop this silliness of doubting women, and saying yes, women can vote. And we know these conversations are happening. So if he didn't say it that way, who knows what he actually said or if that conversation has come up before, but I do think it's a little bit telling that you don't see a senior woman from his campaign out.

CAMEROTA: That's interesting. But Paul, of course these conversations can be misconstrued. If I was running for president and John Berman said to me, I think it could be hard for a woman to win, is that saying something about him or is that saying something about our culture and he's acknowledging that? I think that we're sort of seeing it as Bernie being sexist. Is that the right way to see this?

BEGALA: Obviously, I wasn't in the room. I don't know. I do think, Karen, Bernie, if you are up, and I know you are, he's the energizer bunny, listen to Finney. Listen to what Karen is telling you, senator, because the answer to this actually tonight for Bernie is really easy. But it requires him to do something he's never done before, which is be the frontrunner. Be a unifying figure, be presidential, as Karen and Joe are saying.

And the answer is to say just what Karen said, oh, let me be clear. I don't know if you misunderstood what I said a couple of years ago, Senator Warren. A woman can win, and Senator Warren, if you are the nominee, if Senator Klobuchar is the nominee, I will do everything I can to make sure that you win. That's a unifying message.

And this is going to be really interesting because Bernie is great sort of attacking the Death Star. But now he's the front-runner. In our poll he's in first place. He's the only one moving up in Iowa from November. And that's a really interesting new position for Bernie to be in. But he's got to find a way to unify, not be defensive, not be attacking, but be unifying.

BERMAN: Joe?

LOCKHART: Well, I think the context of the meeting is what -- the reason why I don't think it's being misconstrued. They were getting together at the time, according to the reports, to really try to hash out, is there room for both of us? Is there a rationale for both of us? Because, clearly, if Sanders and Warren can get together and decide only one of them would run, that would be better for the ultraprogressive wing of the party.

[08:10:03]

And I think Sanders was making a case, which was, I have to get in. As much as I love you, Elizabeth, you can't win. And it's very hard to see a different explanation of that. And I think you saw a very defensive campaign yesterday on the Sanders part, first denying this, calling it a lie. And then they had to backtrack, and all of a sudden now it's misconstrued and maybe crossed wires. He's in a tough spot tonight. But Paul is right. He has got to take this head-on and say, if that's what you heard, I apologize. It's not what I believe.

CAMEROTA: I think that's really interesting. And great advice of what he could do, and maybe he is watching. But I think that the other context of the meeting is that this was in December, 2018, at Elizabeth Warren's apartment, and according to M.J., they were talking about sort of a nonaggression pact, that if they did both get in, what the rules of the road would be in terms of not going after each other, because that would hurt the progressive movement. I'm feeling like maybe that's null and void right now, that non-aggression pact.

FINNEY: A little bit. And look, I would imagine, in that conversation, they had to had a point where they said, look, there's going to be a point where if it's you and I, we're going to have to take up arms, because at the end of the day, you are running to win. One of them -- they can't both win. One person has to win. And I think we've all suspected that this moment would come where there would be -- we saw the Sanders campaign have surrogates put out some critiques of Senator Warren. Then this story comes forward. So it's time. We've got to see, between the two of them, who can lead this country.

BERMAN: "Highlander." Is that the movie? There can be only one? LOCKHART: The timing is not quince dent coincidental at all. I think

Elizabeth Warren has had this card personally for a while. She probably didn't want to use it. But when Sanders started doing what Sanders is well known for, having other proxies go after people with very negative attacks, she just decided, it's time to shoot back, and she did.

BERMAN: Just one of the threads that will be fascinating to watch. Tonight, Joe, Paul, Karen, great to have you on this morning. You can watch tonight's CNN/"Des Moines Register" Democratic debate at 9:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.

CAMEROTA: Nearly one month after impeaching President Trump, House Democrats are preparing to deliver their case to the Senate. What will Nancy Pelosi announce after she meets with her caucus this morning? We'll ask, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:16:10]

CAMEROTA: In less than an hour, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet with her entire Democratic caucus. Sources tell CNN she is expected to announce her impeachment managers and schedule a vote to send those articles of impeachment to the Senate.

Joining us now is the assistant speaker of the House, Democratic Congressman Ben Ray Lujan.

Great to see you, Congressman.

REP. BEN RAY LUJAN (D-NM): Good morning, Alisyn. Good to be with you.

CAMEROTA: OK. So, what can we expect this morning? Will we know who the impeachment managers will be? And will the articles of impeachment be transmitted to the Senate this morning?

LUJAN: Well, I'm not going to get in front of Speaker Pelosi. I'm looking forward to getting together and just under an hour with all of our Democratic colleagues, at our caucus this morning, and we always look forward to hearing from the speaker.

But what's importantly clear here is that there is more and more attention that continues to be brought to the fact that Mitch McConnell continues to engage in his cover-up and is still refusing to have a fair trial in the U.S. Senate.

And I hope that the actions that the House will take in the near future just sends another clear signal to the importance of getting this done, and doing the right thing, and Mitch McConnell, we need you to listen to the public opinion from all across America. Have a fair trial, bring in the witnesses and subpoena those documents.

CAMEROTA: Well, I have to believe that Speaker Pelosi feels she has made her point on those -- on those points because it's been more than a month. As we've discussed, John Bolton has come forward, but there is also a feeling as we've heard among Democrats that it's time.

And so, can you tell us if today, the articles will be transmitted?

LUJAN: Look, again, I'm not going to get in front of Speaker Pelosi, Alisyn. The speaker has been very thoughtful in these deliberations and in the process that's been set out. A very fair process that was established in the House where we had witnesses that came in. We collected evidence and we presented those facts to the American people, which is very different than we're hearing what Mitch McConnell will set up.

But, again, I look forward to hearing from the speaker this morning during that caucus meeting and then we'll see what next steps are taken.

CAMEROTA: As of this morning, do you and Speaker Pelosi believe that you will have at least four senators who would vote to hear witnesses?

LUJAN: Oh, look, I appreciate that there are some senators that are coming forward now. Senators like Mitt Romney from Utah that are being abundantly clear that they refuse to vote on any resolutions that will dismiss this trial, that will refuse to have any hearing whatsoever. That's an important step, but it's an important small step. The American people are demanding a fair trial.

So I'm hopeful that more of our Senate Republican colleagues will do the right thing in rejecting, dismissing this trial and demanding that there are witnesses and that there are documents that will be subpoenaed.

CAMEROTA: While I have you, I want to ask about this image that President Trump retweeted. He has been known in the past to retweet doctored, false images. This is one of those. It is photoshopped.

It's showing Chuck Schumer and Speaker Pelosi in what is being referred to as traditional Muslim garb.

What was the reaction in Congress and from the speaker about this?

LUJAN: Well, I don't know what the speaker has said about that, Alisyn. I can share my reaction with you.

We all know the speaker is Catholic. Leader Schumer is Jewish. This is the president's another attempt to continue to engage in a way that is just not becoming of the president of the United States of America.

And it just got to the point where it doesn't surprise me that the president will engage in retweeting photoshopped images to make whatever point it is that he is trying to get across.

[08:20:06]

But this is also hurting Muslims across the country, somehow suggesting that anyone that wears those traditional garments is a terrorist. It's absolutely wrong. The president needs to stop this childish behavior, and people across America are tired of it. CAMEROTA: All this, of course, is in connection to what the fallout

has been from his action against Iran. And one of the things that we're all still wrestling with is what the raw intelligence was that was the predicate for the action that he took. The president over the weekend said that it was because there was an imminent threat on four U.S. embassies.

So, here is CNN's reporting, in terms of what the embassies were told about that.

The State Department sent a global warning to all U.S. embassies before the strike occurred. But it was not directed at specific embassies and did not warn of an imminent attack. One senior State Department official described being blindsided when the administration justified the deadly Reaper drone strike on Soleimani by saying Iran's shadow commander was behind an imminent threat to blow up U.S. embassies.

Do you believe that there was an imminent attack being planned on four U.S. embassies?

LUJAN: Well, I can't comment on any classified briefings, Alisyn, that I've been a part of, but I can say this. It's been widely reported that senior State Department officials were not notified of an imminent threat. Those embassies or any embassy through this reporting, it's been identified, were also not notified.

And in the United States of America, when there is an imminent threat on any one of our embassies, the United States reports that to the State Department and to those embassies. Clearly, the president's staff, the secretary of defense or having to spin the president's lies.

CAMEROTA: Well --

LUJAN: And look at, again, there needs to be honesty with the American people about what this was and what this is not.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

LUJAN: But, clearly, the reporting is showing that Secretary of State Pompeo, Secretary of Defense Esper and the president, they are all in different places, saying different things when they were all in the same room hearing the same intelligence.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, this is what is so hard I think for voters and just Americans in general to try to figure out because one of your Republican colleagues, Adam Kinzinger, says that he heard something very different from what you heard. He, in fact, is willing to talk a little about what he heard and he says that there was specific intelligence.

So, let me just play for you what he said yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): There were very specific things about dates. And it seems that my friends have forgotten that when they came out. When I came out, I said that was actually about as detailed as I've heard in any briefing before. By the way, those dates were very near term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: How about that, Congressman? He heard dates that were in near term.

LUJAN: Well, it seems clear to me, Alisyn, and I don't know if my colleagues would agree. Again, while we can't speak to the details that -- of information that was shared during that hearing. I would associate my remarks with Senator Lee of Utah as well that I was very surprised at the lack of level of information that was being presented to us.

I've gone to the SCIF to read any information that was made available to us, and it took me longer to sign in to read that material than it took to read it. And to sign in to read material, you sign your name, you print your name and you put the date that you're there to read those documents, number one.

So, look, again, I think that as we continue to see the widespread reporting, what's abundantly clear is Secretary of Defense Esper who is receiving intelligence at the highest levels, was in any and all of the rooms that the president was in when he was receiving that intelligence, this weekend on the Sunday shows clearly said he had not seen that intelligence. So, those are Defense Secretary Esper's words himself.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, we will look forward to seeing what comes out of your 9:00 a.m. meeting. Thanks so much for taking the time to be on NEW DAY.

LUJAN: Thanks very -- thanks for having me.

CAMEROTA: John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. A huge earthquake in the sports world. Major League Baseball comes down hard on the Houston Astros. Why this might just be the start of a huge cheating scandal for America's pastime.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:28:24]

BERMAN: The Major League Baseball cheating scandal sending shockwaves around the world. The owner of the Houston Astros fired the team's general manager and manager after an investigation found that the Astros cheated by stealing signs during their World Series championship season.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIM CRANE, HOUSTON ASTROS OWNER: Neither one of them started this, but neither one of them did anything about it, and that's how we came to the conclusion. We need to move forward with a clean slate, and the Astros will become stronger, a stronger organization because of this today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: They would have been suspended for a season anyway even if they hadn't been fired.

Joining me now is legendary sportscaster and MLB network host Bob Costas.

Bob, thanks so much for being with us.

I think every baseball fan in America yesterday when this ruling came down had the same response I did which was, wow. But just so our CNN viewers who are used to maybe impeachment and Iran and other things --

BOB COSTAS, LEGENDARY SPORTSCASTER: Right.

BERMAN: -- know what we're talking about --

COSTAS: This happened more quickly than impeachment, by the way.

BERMAN: Absolutely. In 15 seconds or less, what is stealing signs, and why does it matter?

COSTAS: Stealing signs has always been part of baseball. And if you do it by your wits and powers of observation, it's gamesmanship. It's not only allowed, it's approved of. You're applauded for it.

But by using anything outside of that, by using technology, even back in primitive days, they'd use telescopes from the bleachers and some sort of makeshift signaling system. But now, the technology is so sophisticated and ever-evolving, who knows how much more sophisticated it will be next week or next year, MLB and other sports have to get ahead of it and draw a very decisive line in the sand, which Ron Manfred, the commissioner, did yesterday with his penalty --

[08:30:00]