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Senators Open to Impeachment Witnesses; Surveilling U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine; Iowa Democratic Debate; Red Sox Manager Out; Iowa Caucuses 19 Days Away. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 15, 2020 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00]

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Whether these senators feel like they do need to see more in terms of witnesses and documentation. And that's going to be the big pivot moment to watch.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I have to believe it's hard for -- it will be hard for Susan Collins or Mitt Romney or Lisa Murkowski or any of the moderate Republicans to explain away the Parnas documents, explain away the Giuliani letters, explain away all this new stuff as they consider the witnesses. This has to complicate their lives somewhat (ph).

KIM: I mean it certainly does. But right now I know that they are -- they're -- I mean, as we all are, these senators are being, you know, pounded with new information. They are also, you know, playing catch up to a lot of what -- a lot of the information that came out during the House impeachment proceedings. They tell us, you know, we had other things going on during -- in our own Senate lives while the House impeachment inquiry was going on.

But, you know, they will certainly -- I mean they are the type of senators who will absorb that kind of information and will make a determination at the end of the day whether they need to see more, either hear more from witnesses, such as John Bolton or Mick Mulvaney, or subpoena some key documents that they feel could shed more light on what exactly may have happened here.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Seung Min, Joe, thank you very much. Kara, thank you for all of your reporting. Great to have you.

BERMAN: So why was this private citizen, Robert Hyde, this Republican congressional candidate, talking about surveilling a U.S. diplomat overseas? We're going to speak to a former ambassador about these apparently dark new details, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:35:25]

BERMAN: New this morning, fallout from the surprising new documents released by House Democrats on the eve of the impeachment trial. This is new evidence we had not seen before. The ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, is calling

for an investigation this morning after these documents suggest she was under some kind of surveillance in her final weeks as ambassador. The documents were turned over to investigators by Rudy Giuliani's indicted associate, Lev Parnas.

Joining us now is John E. Herbst. He's the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. He's now the director of Atlantic Council's Eurasia Center.

Ambassador, thank you so much for being with us.

These concern text messages between Lev Parnas and this Republican congressional candidate, Robert Hyde, who we had not heard of before being connected to this.

Let me just read you a section of this where this guy Robert Hyde talks about Yovanovitch, says, they're moving her tomorrow. The guys over there asked me what I would like to do and what's in it for them. Wake up, Yankee man, she talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer off. She's next to the embassy. Not in the embassy. Private security. Been there since Thursday.

This is a guy in the United States who apparently is suggesting he knows that the ambassador's computer is off, knows about her movements.

What concerns does that raise for you?

JOHN E. HERBST, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Look, this is either preposterous bragging or something that's very dark, very dangerous.

Marie Yovanovitch was a great professional who was unjustly taken out of Ukraine. And the notion -- and, of course, she was used to being followed by the KGB. She worked in the Soviet Union in Russia. But to be surveilled, if this is what happened, by an American citizen working on behalf of others in Washington, that's outrageous.

BERMAN: Dark and dangerous, you say.

And I will only note that the president, later on in the summer, suggested Ambassador Yovanovitch was going to go through some things. You see any connection between the language there in this strange notion raised by Robert Hyde?

HERBST: Look, these things sort of sit in the same category. A very dark corner of human activity. I would hope that someone senior at the State Department will express some concern today about this possible surveillance of an American diplomat by Americans.

BERMAN: Well --

HERBST: Because, again, this is just outrageous if it's true.

BERMAN: Well, on that point, we haven't heard anything from Ambassador -- from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in terms of defending Ambassador Yovanovitch to some of the questions that were raised about her or the attacks that were made on her.

What does the secretary of state need to say this morning in light of this?

HERBST: Well, it would be good again if the department issued a statement, or someone senior would issue a statement saying that, you know, Ambassador Yovanovitch did a good job and there's no justification whatsoever for Americans -- individual, private Americans to surveil American diplomats. It's just crazy if it's true. If it's true.

BERMAN: There's a statement -- exactly. Look, and we don't know. Lev Parnas is a character.

HERBST: Right.

BERMAN: Robert Hyde is a character to the enth (ph) power, but they were talking about this.

HERBST: Right.

BERMAN: There were these exchanges back and forth. And Parnsas was working with Giuliani.

HERBST: Correct.

BERMAN: And Giuliani, we now know, claims he was working on behalf directly of the president of the United States. That's why these questions are so important.

Representatives for Ambassador Yovanovitch say, needless to say, the notion that American cities and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch's movements for unknown purposes is disturbing. We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation to determine what happened.

Who are the appropriate authorities?

HERBST: Well, there is a law enforcement in the United States. I understand why they would call for that because, again, the possibility this happened is deeply, deeply troubling.

BERMAN: And why would -- you know, the bigger picture here is, why would someone want Ambassador Yovanovitch out of the picture? Has that question been answered to you adequately?

HERBST: Well, as an analyst, I'm not a lawyer, but it seems pretty clear what was up. There was an effort to try to persuade the government of Ukraine to conduct an investigation into the false narrative of Ukrainian interference and serious interference in our 2016 presidential election. And also into the false narrative that Joe Biden was doing something corrupt in Ukraine when, in fact, he was fighting corruption. That's what this is all about. And it's very sad. And, of course, it directly contradicts America's great interest in Ukraine.

[06:40:02]

BERMAN: Ambassador John Herbst, thanks for being with us this morning. This is only the beginning. We may be seeing more information as it keeps coming out on these fronts. Appreciate it.

Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: If you were a betting man, you'd say that there'd be more coming out since every week we do see more.

BERMAN: And the House Democrats have suggested that they have more information from this specific trove of things from Lev Parnas.

CAMEROTA: OK. We will wait to see what happens there.

Meanwhile, who were the winners and losers from last night's debate? Chris Cillizza has some strong ideas on this. And he's going to join us, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: We are 19 days away from the Iowa caucuses. Yes, John, it really is happening. Now I believe it.

For several of the Democratic candidates, last night was their last chance to make their case to voters before the impeachment trial takes them off the campaign trail.

So, who are were the winners and losers? Only one man knows. That's CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza.

Chris, good morning.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: I know you like to cast life in terms of winners and losers. And so let's start positive. Who were your big winners last night?

CILLIZZA: OK. First of all, John Berman and Alisyn Camerota, always on the winners list.

CAMEROTA: Well done.

CILLIZZA: OK, for the debate last night, I had two that I thought really stood out. I thought Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren were the two that were clearly, I thought, in the winner's circle. Buttigieg for basically the first 30 minutes of the debate I -- dominated in some ways his conversation about foreign policy.

[06:45:00]

He talked about his time in Iraq. I thought he was quite strong about Iran. He was clearly knowledgeable, well versed about the need, in his mind, for a new authorization for military force by Congress.

Just -- if you're a 37 -- you know, late 30s guy running for the president of the United States and your past experience is as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, you need to convince people that you could be the commander in chief. And I think he did a good job there.

Warren, you know, I think the line of the night will be that the four men on stage have lost ten combined races. The two women on stage have lost zero combined races. She didn't go directly at Bernie Sanders when it came to the dispute over whether or not he said a woman couldn't win in 2020. But she made quite clear she wasn't happy with him.

And I think that if you're looking at that debate, you see more good for her than for Bernie Sanders.

BERMAN: Oh, that's interesting.

All right, Chris, how about the losers?

CILLIZZA: OK, losers. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders that were the two that stood out for me the most. Joe Biden's not a good debater. I -- you know, I don't -- at this point, I feel like we can say that pretty comfortably. We're now seven debates in. He is, at best, sort of like, OK, that wasn't that bad. He's at worst some halting, struggling to get his thoughts out, kind of circles back on himself, cuts himself off in mid-sentence. I just think he did a lot of that last night. He also spent a lot of the debate apologizing for his vote for the war in Iraq, for his support -- past support for things like PNTR and NAFTA.

Sanders, look, a lot of it's personal preference. I didn't think his answer vis-a-vis Elizabeth Warren and what was said in that conversation was particularly good. He was largely dismissive. Well, I didn't say it. Everybody knows I didn't say it. We don't need to talk about it.

CAMEROTA: But if he didn't say it, what's he supposed to say?

CILLIZZA: That is true, but aren't we -- and Elizabeth Warren is on the record saying this happened. I just think you have to handle it more delicately given their relationship, given where we are culturally to say, look, I respect what Senator Warren said. And I went through my -- I searched my mind and I -- this is not what I found. I just thought he was a little dismissive.

But you're right, Alisyn, I mean I'm not saying he should admit that it happened if he does not believe it happened. I just thought tonally the way he handled it wasn't great. And I'll also add, it wasn't just that. But it was largely left out of the healthcare discussion. You had Elizabeth Warren defending Medicare for all, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, to an extent, attacking and saying it's too much. Bernie Sanders, again, wrote the damn bill, to quote him. He was kind of left out of that conversation.

BERMAN: Chris Cillizza, you're a winner. You're a winner.

CILLIZZA: Well --

CAMEROTA: You're a wiener. BERMAN: Did you say --

CILLIZZA: Definitely that.

CAMEROTA: OK, winner, you're right. That's what I said.

CILLIZZA: It's just a slight misspelling.

BERMAN: It's a matter of personal preference, I'd just like to say.

CILLIZZA: Yes, exactly. Chris Cillizza, a matter of personal preference.

BERMAN: Thank you very much for being with us this morning, sir.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Look, on the subjects of losers, and I hate to say this --

CAMEROTA: I know. (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Boston Red Sox -- Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora is out. The latest casualty in baseball's sign stealing scandal.

CAMEROTA: I feel like you predicted this.

BERMAN: I actually told Bob Costas yesterday after our interview I thought it would happen. He said no. I was right. Bob Costas was wrong.

CAMEROTA: Whoa.

BERMAN: One of the only times that will ever happen.

CAMEROTA: That is the news.

BERMAN: Details in the "Bleacher Report," next.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:52:28]

CAMEROTA: Major League Baseball's sign stealing scandal is growing. Now the Boston Red Sox part ways with their manager.

Carolyn Manno has more on the "Bleacher Report."

Oh, boy.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning.

The sense that I got from being in Boston this week, that this was very much an inevitability. Just a question of when. It became clear that Cora's job was in danger when Commissioner Rob

Manfred announced the impressive punishment for the Houston Astros on Monday. In a nine-page report, Manfred mentioned Cora by name 11 times. So we knew it was coming. He's accused of being a key part of the Astros' sign steeling scheme when he was the team's bench coach in 2017. He then joined the Red Sox as manager in 2018 and went on to win the World Series.

Major League Baseball is investigating the Red Sox for using technology to steal signs. Cora hasn't been punished yet as part of that investigation.

He did release a statement last night saying, we agreed today that parting ways was the best thing for the organization. I do not want to be a distraction to the Red Sox as they move forward.

This comes one day after one-year suspensions were given to Astros manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow, who were both quickly fired in the aftermath of that announcement. So spring training begins in less than a month, John and Alisyn, and the Red Sox and (INAUDIBLE) certainly have a lot to handle. Their fifth manager in ten years. And decisions will have to be made.

BERMAN: Yes, pitchers and catchers show up in four weeks --

MANNO: Yes.

BERMAN: And the Red Sox have no manager. This was the only outcome possible at this point.

MANNO: The only way forward. Yes.

BERMAN: Carolyn, thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Thanks, Carolyn.

BERMAN: And it's too bad because Alex Cora, there's a lot going for him as well, but he got caught cheating.

We're entering the final stretch, just 19 days before the Iowa caucuses. What factors at this point could change the mind of the caucus goers and how will the impeachment trial, which takes candidates off the trail, affect the race?

Joining us now is Kay Henderson. She is the news director for Radio Iowa.

Kay, thanks so much for being with us.

Look, we've never seen anything like this before. Three of the candidates who were on that stage last night at the final debate before the caucuses, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, they're going to have to be in the Senate chamber for the impeachment trial, six days a week starting next Tuesday.

How do you think that will affect the final stretch? O. KAY HENDERSON, NEWS DIRECTOR, RADIO IOWA: Well, that made last night's event very important. For Sanders and Warren, they are depending upon this group of volunteers and paid staffers they've had on the ground on Warren's part for a year, and for Sanders' part since probably 2015. So those are the people who are going to have to find the vote who are sort of leaning their way and convince them to show up on caucus night because those two folks are not going to be closing the sale, if you will.

[06:55:09]

Klobuchar has been talking about this moment on the campaign trail since October. She's said she's going to deploy her husband. She has some key endorsers around the state. Legislators. A former woman who ran for statewide office twice in this state who will be making the case for her. In addition, Warren has really staffed up. She's hired, at some estimates, dozens of people. And so those are the folks that are organizing this get out the vote effort that is not coming from the top, it's coming from the bottom.

BERMAN: It's interesting, the impeachment trial will no doubt get a lot of national attention and media play, but what we hear from our reporters on the ground is that impeachment isn't a thing for Iowa caucus goers in the sense that it isn't top of mind when they're deciding who to vote for, correct?

HENDERSON: Right. These candidates have not been getting questions of -- from Iowans, are you going to support impeachment or not. Everyone knows how these candidates will be voting or if they do or don't support impeachment on the Democratic side.

That aside, what I think was important about last night's event was this moment that you've been talking about this morning when Sanders and Warren had a public discussion about a very private discussion about a woman being president. What I think Warren was aiming for there was to remind Iowans, half of the caucus goers in 2016 supported Hillary Clinton, about that very extended primary fight. And when you, as a reporter, go into these crowds in Iowa, you hear from women who say, it's time for a woman in the White House.

And so I think what Warren accomplished last night in that moment, and she brought Amy Klobuchar into that conversation, reminding people that there is a reason to vote for them and it is solely about gender.

BERMAN: I think that's interesting. And I think you're right about that. I think Warren's move the last few days was trying to move out the just the progressive lane. Trying to make this about something other than just being -- running against Bernie Sanders.

HENDERSON: Right.

BERMAN: It was about Bernie Sanders specifically.

HENDERSON: Right.

BERMAN: But the goal was much wider than that. One of the things you've said over the last several weeks, as we are just 19 days away, is that Iowans are fretting as we're just 19 days away. What do you mean by that?

HENDERSON: I think, in some respects, they feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. They want to get this decision right. As you and others have reported, every nominee for the Democratic Party dating back to Al Gore has won the Iowa caucuses. So getting the imprint of winner behind your name on caucus night is very important and the nominating process has been shown this century.

BERMAN: Yes.

HENDERSON: The other thing is that they're very focused on finding someone who they believe is the best match against Donald Trump in the general election. So, for instance, I was on the campaign trail last weekend and a gentleman told me that he was weighing a decision between Joe Biden and Bernie sanders. They have very little, you know, in common in terms of ideology. What this voter had been looking at was the polls and the polls told him that those two voters had the best -- those two candidates, rather, had the best chance of defeating President Trump in November.

BERMAN: That's really interesting because, politically speaking, they have nothing in common.

I just remember four years ago, the Saturday night before the caucuses, I was at -- I think it was Iowa State University. Bernie Sanders held a huge rally with vampire weekend and one of the guys from "Hunger Games" with 15,000 people. That's the kind of thing that's going to be tough with the impeachment trial. It's going to be hard to close the deal physically for some of these candidates.

HENDERSON: You are right, and so that gives an advantage to two moderates who are competing for support among moderate Democrats. Don't forget that at least 60 percent of the people who will show up on caucus night consider themselves to be moderate Democrats. And so Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg can move to Iowa in the closing 19 days, or 18 and a half days if you will, that are left in this campaign and make the -- make the pitch to Iowans themselves. And you can't under value that.

BERMAN: Kay Henderson, thanks so much for being with us this morning, live this morning from an Iowa diner. Go order some eggs and some coffee and enjoy it.

Thanks so much for being with us.

HENDERSON: I will.

CAMEROTA: That does sound good.

BERMAN: Doesn't it?

CAMEROTA: Yes. Now you're making me hungry.

It is a huge day on impeachment and the news from last night's Iowa debate.

NEW DAY continues right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: From Des Moines, Iowa, the final debate before Iowans caucus just 20 days from now.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's incomprehensible that I would think that a woman cannot be president of the United States.

[07:00:03]

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I disagree.

I am not here to fight with Bernie.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My record overall, I'm prepared to compare it to anybody's on this stage.