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Hala Gorani Tonight
Pelosi Holding Up Impeachment Transfer; Interview with Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA); Boris Johnson Moves to Solidify January 31st Brexit; U.S. Democrats Prepare For Impeachment Trial In Senate; Putin Says Trump Was Impeached On "Made-Up Reasons"; Protests Spread Nationwide Despite Crackdown; Savvy Innovators Are Tackling Pollution And Climate Crisis. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired December 19, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani. Tonight, Donald Trump is officially impeached. Now what? I speak
to a Republican lawmaker who insists that the president did nothing wrong.
And is Hezbollah now calling all the shots in the Lebanese government? Their pick is now designated as the new prime minister of a country on the
And later, would you let your 8-year-old front his own YouTube channel? What if I told you he or she could earn $26 million doing so in a single
Donald Trump is now the third U.S. president ever to be impeached. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the articles of impeachment
Wednesday evening, nearly all Democrats voting in favor; all Republicans voting against.
The fight, though, is far from over. The next step is President Trump's trial in the Senate. The Senate's Republican majority leader is predicting
that Mr. Trump will be acquitted, and he's getting this dig in at congressional Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This particular House of Representatives has let its partisan rage at this particular president create a toxic new
precedent that will echo well into the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, the U.S. House speaker on the other side, Nancy Pelosi, wants McConnell and his Democratic counterpart in the Senate to cut a deal
on the trial's rules before she hands over the articles of impeachment. They have not been sent to the Senate.
She says there is one thing the United States' founding fathers never envisioned. Listen to Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We would hope there would be a fair process, just as we hope that they would honor the Constitution. By the way, I saw
some -- I didn't see it, but I heard some of what Mitch McConnell said today, and it reminded me that our founders, when they wrote the
Constitution, they suspected that there could be a rogue president. I don't think they suspected that we could have a rogue president and a rogue
leader in the Senate at the same time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: So the barbs between the two congressional leaders highlight the bitter battle that's unfolded over the president's impeachment. More now
from CNN U.S. correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a historic vote to impeach President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction
of Congress --
PELOSI: Article two is adopted.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not committing to sending the articles to the Senate.
PELOSI: We will make our decision as to when we're going to send it when we see what they're doing on the Senate side. But that's a decision that
we will make jointly.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Pelosi, bashing Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell's handling of the process so far, before it's even reached his
PELOSI: This is what I don't consider a fair trial. That Leader McConnell has stated that he's not an impartial juror, that he's going to take his
cues -- in quotes -- from the White House --
MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Trump, lashing out at Democrats during a rally in Michigan while the impeachment vote was still under way.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn't really feel like we're being impeached, do you --
So the House Democrats are surrendering their majority, their dignity, their reputations. They look like a bunch of fools.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Behind the scenes, some progressive Democrats, urging their leaders to withhold the articles until McConnell agrees to
incorporate some of their demands, including allowing witnesses like acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and former National Security Advisor John
Bolton to testify.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Will he negotiate with Chuck Schumer or will he, as he has indicated, sadly, merely do the president's bidding?
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Texas Senator John Cornyn, responding to the potential delay, telling CNN, "We don't care if they never come."
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Of course she wants to wait because she'll never mollify all of the haters and detractors. First,
they were rushing through it. Now they want to wait.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): In between his anti-impeachment tirade, the president again, attacking Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and her late
husband John, while recalling the congressman's funeral earlier this year.
TRUMP: She calls me up. It's the nicest thing that's ever happened, thank you so much. John would be so thrilled. He's looking down, he'd be so
thrilled. I said, that's OK, don't worry about it. Maybe he's looking up, I don't know.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Dingell, responding on Twitter, writing, "I'm preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought
me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder."
GORANI: That was Suzanne Malveaux reporting.
Let's get the very latest on where things stand. CNN U.S. congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly joins me now from Capitol Hill.
So what happens next? Nancy Pelosi has not sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Why is there a delay here?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So it's essentially a standoff. And I think what you saw the speaker say last night -- and we
also saw her reiterate this this morning -- is they're basically waiting to see what the Senate trial structure is actually going to look like before
they take the vote that would transmit the articles of impeachment over to the U.S. Senate.
And here's the backstory here. It needs to be kind of viewed through the context of what's been going on in the U.S. Senate. Senate Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell has made very clear, he believes the case is weak, he believes that there's no chance the president gets removed from office, he
will be acquitted and he's been communicating with the White House throughout this entire process. That has infuriated Democrats, who believe
that he's basically putting his thumb on the scale for the future trial.
Now, here's kind of what's supposed to happen next. We know, Hala, in the next hour or two, Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Senate Democratic
Leader Chuck Schumer will meet. They will try and talk a way forward about that structure for the trial.
Remember, Democrats want witnesses, McConnell has said he doesn't want them and if they are to come, it would happen after the initial stages of the
trial. So that's going to be a very key meeting, to see how this is going forward.
One thing we do know, though. It sounded last night like the speaker was saying they may hold onto the articles indefinitely if they didn't get a
fair trial. Now it's pretty clear that they're going to send them over eventually, they just at least want this initial meeting between Schumer
and McConnell to occur.
GORANI: All right. We'll see if that changes anything in terms of how -- what McConnell is willing to agree to with the Democratic leader in the
Senate, Chuck Schumer. Thanks very much for that, Phil Mattingly.
During that day-long debate yesterday, ahead of Wednesday night's impeachment vote, Democrats insisted they were trying to stop a corrupt
president. Republicans had a very different argument. They say the will of the people is being overturned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DENVER RIGGLEMAN (R-VA): I represent the fifth district of Virginia, which is home to so many founding fathers whose vision shaped the great
country we are living in today. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are not around to see what their creation has become, but I don't think they would
be pleased to see Congress subverting the will of democracy by holding an impeachment vote because the majority party simply cannot accept the 2016
Instead of wasting the taxpayers' time and money on specious investigations, we could have passed legislation to address surprise
medical billing, secure the border, address the opioid epidemic, reduce student debt and solve a litany of other issues that Americans actually
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: All right. That's Congressman Denver Riggleman. He voted no to impeaching President Trump. He's a Republican from Virginia. He did so
along with all of this Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives, and he joins me now from Washington.
Congressman, thanks so much for being with us. Why didn't the evidence presented so far convince you that the president committed an impeachable
RIGGLEMAN: I might have a little bit different take on it -- by the way, hello, Hala -- I might --
RIGGLEMAN: -- have a little bit different take on it. My background was in intelligence, specifically on strategic operational and tactical
intelligence. When I saw the transcript when it was released ,after I read the I.G. report and the whistleblower report, my question was, why didn't
the primary sources think that it reached a threshold of criminal conduct and he had to pass it to somebody else?
I -- they're probably pretty happy I didn't get to ask the questions. Because to me, it seemed like they weaponized emotion -- when I say "they,"
I'm talking about the Democrats -- seem to have weaponized --
RIGGLEMAN: -- on this issue, and were not looking at facts.
And so I just went back and did my research, and I saw this did not meet any threshold for impeachment. And really, with Ukraine and the corruption
that goes on there, it seemed like to be some, you know ,a bit of a -- a bit of an honest question about corruption in Ukraine, going forward.
GORANI: Right. It didn't bother you that the president, on that July 25th phone call, asked for a favor? At that point, the aid, the security
assistance had been withheld, it was only released after the president learned that there'd be congressional investigations into that phone call
and his actions. It didn't bother you, that timeline, at all on any level?
RIGGLEMAN: A lot of people have asked me that question. And I think when some people think it's inappropriate, it's not impeachable.
And also, there were a couple of things that I did as far as strategic intelligence. There was a -- there was a resolution, I believe it was 122
back in 2015, and another law back in 2015 that talked about corruption from Ukraine. Schiff was on those bills. Ukraine and corruption have
become synonymous. The president, Zelensky, knew what was going on there and we have to root out corruption in Ukraine.
Listen, I spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe as an intelligence officer, I get what goes on over there. And for me, I guess maybe it's my background
is a little different. I haven't been in politics long, I was actually intelligence work. So I didn't think it was --
RIGGLEMAN: -- inappropriate at all. Yes.
GORANI: But you said what's inappropriate is not necessarily impeachable. You don't even think it was inappropriate, therefore?
RIGGLEMAN: Oh. At that point, talking about Ukraine and the prior phone calls that he had -- and, Hala, we got briefed on the phone calls before
that and the context of it, and that's why we thought that the process was flawed. Why couldn't we have had witnesses? Only three of nine were
And that's why I'm looking forward to the Senate trial. I hope we actually have one because I would even -- I tell you, I wish I was in the Senate to
ask some of the questions that I have for the process and what happened during this -- really, a majority hearing, it wasn't an impeachment --
GORANI: Well, Mitch McConnell in the Senate says he doesn't want witnesses. And also, some witnesses were subpoenaed. White House staff
and the chief of staff among others, John Bolton, the former national security advisor, they just didn't appear. It's not like the Democrats
didn't want to hear from them.
RIGGLEMAN: Yes. Well, I think they thought it was a majority hearing. Again, and when you're looking at the people that we did want there, they
were subpoenaing everybody. We had witnesses in the hopper that we thought would be pretty damaging to the case.
Especially in some of the segments we have, Hala, like there's 18 USC Section 798, with this disclosure of classified information to unauthorized
persons, that's where I wanted to go with this.
And again, I wonder, Hala, it goes back to me (ph), process. But why didn't the primary people who reported this to the whistleblower, why
didn't they think there was a threshold for impeachment or even criminal activity? And it seems to me that they've (ph) been (ph) trying (ph) to
(ph) do (ph) --
GORANI: Well, it's not their job --
RIGGLEMAN: -- this (ph) since (ph) 2016.
GORANI: It's not their job to launch an impeachment inquiry, Congress did it after hearing from many people directly related to the phone call.
But I want to move away a little bit from Ukraine. Because obviously, the Republicans and the Democrats are very, very split on this. It doesn't
seem like there's really going to be any overlap between the two sides.
I want to ask you a little bit about what the president said yesterday at a rally that raised a lot of eyebrows and even, by the way, our reporter on
the ground said that during this rally, the president's own supporters, some of them groaned after he said, about the late congressperson John
Dingell, he said this about him and his widow, Debbie Dingell. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: John would be so thrilled. He's looking down, he'd be so thrilled. Thank you so much, sir. I said, that's OK, don't worry about it. Maybe
he's looking up, I don't know.
I don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: The -- how do you defend this type of rhetoric?
RIGGLEMAN: I wouldn't have said it. And that's the thing, is sometimes when you're trying to -- so you sort of get in front of your headlights,
there's a military term where you get in front of your headlights. Again, I think he's pretty angry about the proceedings and it's something I
wouldn't have said. And my guess is, in the next couple days, he'll probably clarify.
GORANI: Right. I mean, he mocked the widow of the longest-serving congressman, basically, pretty much in U.S. history, to a crowd of
supporters. He's the president of the United States. Do you find that inappropriate?
RIGGLEMAN: On that one, I would not have done that. And it's just something I would not have done. And again, I think it goes back --
there's some anger on both sides, and really, the tribalism of politics right now is getting out of control and I think we need to take emotion out
And that's what I've seen in my first year, is there just seems to be a weaponizing of emotion on both sides and I think we need to get away from
that as soon as we can.
GORANI: Denver Riggleman, you are new to politics. But you are already facing a primary challenge. Now, the president of the United States
endorsed you, he said you're a conservative leader. But you come from a state, Virginia, that in the last election pretty much top to bottom, voted
for Democrats. Your state is turning blue. What --
TEXT: Donald J. Trump: Congressman@Denver4VA Riggleman is a true CONSERVATIVE leader who has done a great job for Virginia and will support
our #MAGA Agenda. He defends our right to bear arms, protect our Borders & help small businesses. Denver has my Total Endorsement!
GORANI: -- why would you even want Donald Trump's endorsement? What is it going to get you?
RIGGLEMAN: Oh my goodness. The policies that have helped Virginia, I have a 65 percent rural district. You know, we have the USMCA, which we're
hopefully voting on today, we're 64 percent rural. You're talking about the NDAA, the National Defense Authorization Act, has helped our community
so much, especially in Southside, Virginia --
RIGGLEMAN: -- we've been ravaged down there with loss of agricultural business down there, but also hemp (ph). We've had so much help from the
White House and their staff on pushing forward these economic initiatives and making sure things happen down there.
His -- I'll tell you what --
GORANI: All right.
RIGGLEMAN: -- President Trump's policies in Virginia have been extraordinary. We have three percent unemployment. You look at the Fifth
District, we're at three percent or 2.9 percent unemployment.
Of course, there's a disparity north to south --
RIGGLEMAN: -- I'm happy for the endorsement --
GORANI: But that -- but regardless of that --
RIGGLEMAN: -- going forward.
GORANI: As you know, regardless of that, Democrats did really well in the last election.
I've got to ask you one last question here because this again is something that raised eyebrows. A Georgia congressman, Barry Loudermilk, said the
impeachment proceedings are less fair to the president than the trial of Jesus Christ was.
I don't have to remind you how it all ended for Jesus Christ, who was literally nailed to a cross. The president said this is less fair than the
Salem Witch Trials that relied on the testimony of spirits and that ended with the burning of witches. Do you not believe that this over-the-top
rhetoric is starting to get just -- I -- a little bit, you know, sort of -- just over the top, I guess?
RIGGLEMAN: Well, I think the rhetoric in the last year has been over the top, especially since, you know, the Democrats took the House. I think
this back-and-forth has to stop.
As far as Barry Loudermilk, he's a great man. I don't think he was trying to make that type of comparison, I think he was talking about due process -
GORANI: Well, he did --
RIGGLEMAN: He did.
RIGGLEMAN: But I think he was talking about due process and what's happening on the floor. And again, there's been a lot of frustration. And
I think that's what you're having here.
And you're right, it is my first term in Congress. I'm OK with an opponent. I'm a pretty independent-thinking guy, and I think that's part
of it too is, you know, our district's bigger than New Jersey, Hala, right? It cuts Virginia in two. I have 10,000 square miles. We are an
agricultural district, but also DOD.
So I think right now, what we're seeing in the policies, economic-wise and the things that are happening, I think we just have a really good ride this
next year economically, especially with the trade deals that we have going on right now.
GORANI: All right. Denver Riggleman, Republican congressman for Virginia's fifth district. Thanks very much for joining us.
RIGGLEMAN: Thanks, Hala. You have a good day.
GORANI: To the U.K. now, where the queen has officially opened the new parliament and made the government's intentions crystal-clear.
(BEIGN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF ENGLAND: My government's priority is to deliver the United Kingdom's departure from the European Union on the 31st of January.
My ministers will bring forward legislation to ensure the United Kingdom's exist on that date. And to make the most of the opportunities that this
brings for all the people of the United Kingdom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, the government is wasting no time focusing on Brexit. Lawmakers will debate and vote on the E.U. withdrawal bill tomorrow,
Friday. Phil Black joins me now from outside parliament with more.
And the prime minister also wants to include in legislation a -- the -- sort of to make it impossible to rule out any extension of the transition
period beyond the end of -- of next year. Will he get his wish?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he has a big majority, Hala, so the short answer is yes. What we're talking about is the legislation that's
going to codify his negotiated deal with the European Union, turn it into law, enshrine that divorce date of January the 31st.
And then what happens after that, which is what you're touching on there, is that Britain moves into the transition or the implementation phase for
11 months, until the end of 2020. This is the period where the E.U. and the U.K. are supposed to negotiate and agree on the better part of their
future trading agreement.
Boris Johnson has said all along, I don't want to extend that period, I'm not going to extend it. Now he wants to enshrine it in law. So it sets a
very tight time limit in order to achieve that. His fans would say it's a powerful statement of intent; his critics, it's delusional, a crazy short
timetable that once again puts that dreaded no-deal Brexit scenario back on the table.
But regardless of how heated the debate is on this point, in parliament tomorrow, Boris Johnson has that much talked-about majority of 80 M.P.s So
when they vote on it tomorrow, it's going to sail through. When it enters the following stages, earlier in the new year, it's going to pass pretty
much unchanged through there as well.
So what all of that means is that Brexit on January the 31st, according to the terms negotiated by Boris Johnson and the E.U., that is now inevitable.
But what follows after that? Well, there's a lot of uncertainty there -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Phil Black, thanks very much.
Still to come tonight, a designated new prime minister, but the same decades-old problems in Lebanon. We'll take you live to Beirut.
GORANI: Lebanon's president has designated a new prime minister, and he's vowing to form a government quickly and pull the country out of its
economic crisis. He's the former education minister, Hassan Diab, and he has the backing of Hezbollah. But how will protestors, who have been
demanding an end to corruption and the status quo, react?
Ben Wedeman joins me now, live from Beirut with more. So what is the reaction to this Hezbollah-backed prime ministerial candidate?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the reaction so far has been mixed. We've seen already, some protests against him. But
they're protests more from the supporters of caretaker prime minister Saad Al-Hariri, then sort of those who have been really pushing for fundamental
economic and political change here in Lebanon.
It's important to stress that Diab was chosen by a coalition of parties that includes Hezbollah, but also the Free Patriotic Movement, which is a
definitively Christian political party and the major partner in that coalition.
So reaction has been mixed to a man who, 24 hours ago, was pretty much an unknown quantity. He was, until just a few hours ago, a vice president at
the American University of Beirut from 2011 to 2014. He was a minister of education, he is a self-described technocrat, a political independent with
no clear affiliations to any of Lebanon's political parties.
But according to an unwritten understanding here in Lebanon, the prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim. The problem is that he received no
support from any major Sunni political figure or political party.
And an added complication is the fact that he was -- his nomination was backed by Hezbollah, which is likely to bring down the wrath of the United
States on his government, which will make his task of uniting the people of Lebanon and saving its economy from collapse, all the more difficult.
Keeping in mind, Hala, that tomorrow morning, David Hale, the U.S. under secretary of state for Political Affairs, is scheduled to arrive in
Lebanon, and the worry is that he will be the bearer of bad tidings, more sanctions --
WEDEMAN: -- on a country that has an economy that is literally falling apart -- Hala.
GORANI: And well, my question's on the economy because this is a country on the verge of collapse economically, as you know. What are the
qualifications of Hassan Diab to pull the country back from the brink? What are his plans?
I mean, the -- it seems to me like there is no way that the currency won't be devalued, that banks will be able to honor payments. There are really,
really dark days ahead if nothing fundamentally radical is done.
WEDEMAN: In terms of his qualifications, that's a very good question. He's a computer engineer. He is not an economist, a financial analyst. He
doesn't have the kind of government experience that might be useful in saving the country from economic collapse.
What the country needs is some sort of prime minister who will provide confidence to donor nations to provide the kind of bailout that Lebanon
Now, Saad Al-Hariri, the caretaker prime minister, sort of fit that bill. But because of differences between him and the other members of what was
his government, which included the Free Patriotic Movement, that Christian party, Hezbollah (INAUDIBLE), he basically had a national unity cabinet,
but there wasn't much unity in that cabinet and he was unable to reconstruct it.
And of course, there's no confidence among the protestors that any of the leaders currently on the political stage have the wherewithal to do what is
needed to save Lebanon from, really, what does look like an onrushing train, running over what's left of the economy -- Hala.
GORANI: All right. Ben Wedeman, thanks very much, live in Beirut.
Still to come, real or fake? A CNN investigation reveals how surprisingly easy it is to buy counterfeit child safety products on Amazon.
GORANI: A car seat that fractured on impact, infant sleeping bags with zippers falling off, toy putty with strong magnets that are dangerous. In
a months-long investigation, CNN found fake and dangerous baby products are turning up for sale on Amazon. Clare Sebastian joins us now with that
story -- Clare.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala. Over a period of several months, we've been speaking to more than half a dozen different baby and
children's brands. They all sell their products on Amazon, they all obviously operate in a highly regulated industry.
But they all tell us they face a constant game of what many are calling whack-a-mole when it comes to counterfeit and copycat versions of their
products turning up on Amazon.
Now, this is, of course, hurting their businesses, in many cases, lost sales in the hundreds of thousands. But this is also a question of safety.
And as part of this investigation, Hala, we bought and crash-tested a copycat version on Amazon of a popular brand of car seat. Take a look at
some of what we found.
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): The seat we purchase is designed to look like a Doona, a sought-after brand of car seat that folds out into a stroller.
The Amazon listing even used some of Doona's own promotional images, and it's about $200 cheaper than the real thing.
Two pediatricians who watched this video told us a child in this seat would have been at serious risk of head and neck injuries. We also showed the
results to Doona.
AMIAD RAVIV, COMMERCIAL MANAGER, DOONA: It's unbelievable to see how a product that looks very much like ours, performs completely different in a
SEBASTIAN (voice-over): We did put a genuine Doona through the exact same crash test in the same lab. It remained intact, meeting federal standards.
Doona says this isn't just an Amazon problem. It's been working with various e-commerce platforms for more than two years now to take down
RAVIV: We've taken down, just this year, more than 40 pages, which had infringing products or fake products, just on the Amazon platform alone.
And if you assume that each one of these pages is out for, you know, three to seven days, then you're talking about a good period of the year in which
fake products, dangerous products are being sold on Amazon.
SEBASTIAN: Well, Hala, in the case of this particular car seat, just shortly after we bought it, the listing actually disappeared from Amazon.
Just this week, as well, after we had sent Amazon the report on that crash test, they recalled the product. An e-mail went out to customers where
they said, don't use it, cut the straps. And they offered a full refund.
And, now, we also -- this was sold by a third party on Amazon, we also contacted that seller. We reached them by phone, they're a company called
Strollex (ph) based in China. The person, who declined to give their name, said their products are safe and they wouldn't answer any more questions.
So, clearly, a very tricky issue when it comes to these safety products. Amazon says safety is a top priority, they have launched a number of
initiatives to try to combat counterfeits, but it's not enough.
GORANI: Clare, thanks very much. We'll see your full report on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS," next hour.
Still to come tonight, the impeachment of Donald Trump will be center stage tonight as Democratic presidential hopefuls debate in Los Angeles. We'll
speak with a Democratic strategist, next.
GORANI: Well, back to Washington now where history is unfolding after the White House voted to impeach the U.S. president.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is refusing to commit to handing over the articles of impeachment to the Senate because Democrats first want
assurances that a Senate trial will be fair. That's what they're saying and the Senate leader has already said, he will not be impartial, the
Republican Senate leader. All of this certain to play squarely into tonight's Democratic presidential debate amid a very hot race for 2020.
Joining me from Washington now is Democratic strategist, Matt Bennett. He cofounded the public policy think tank, Third Way.
You worked in the Clinton administration?
MATT BENNETT, CO-FOUNDER, THIRD WAY: I did. I was in the Clinton class.
GORANI: Yes. Were you there -- were you there during the impeachment inquiry and trial of President Clinton?
BENNETT: I was indeed and it was a very, very difficult time for the White House. I was in the office of the vice president then, which was under a
particular spotlight, as you can imagine.
Because unlike today, the senators in 1999 did not announce their intentions beforehand. They did not say they would be impartial jurors and
we actually didn't know for certain what would happen in the Senate trial.
GORANI: Right. What was the atmosphere like in the White House? I'm just trying to -- I'm wondering what it's like in the Trump White House right
BENNETT: Well, the Trump White House is like nothing we've ever seen before, as the president fond of saying. They're a completely different
But in our White House, it was very difficult. Things were -- we didn't know if the president would survive this scandal. And so from day-to-day,
we were kind of monitoring events and the mood fluctuated up and down depending on what seemed to be happening and where public opinion was
GORANI: Now today's race, we have a new CNN poll that indicates that Joe Biden is still the leader. But his numbers have ticked down from last
month from 28 percent to 26 percent support. Sanders and Warren both ticking up. Where do you see this race going?
BENNETT: The thing that's been the most surprising about the race is its relative stability at the top. Joe Biden entered the race in the lead. He
has never really relinquished it in the national polls. Of course, the state polls in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South
Carolina matter more at this stage because what happens in those states often provides momentum.
But I think there has been a little bit of fluctuation, but not a whole lot of change going on in the relative positions of the top four candidates.
That I think, in and of itself, is the most surprising thing.
GORANI: And so what does that tell us?
BENNETT: Well, it may tell us exactly who the nominee is going to be. We have never in the modern era, denied the nomination to a former vice
president who has run for it, Walter Mondale and Al Gore.
BENNETT: But there are only been two. So either it means that --
GORANI: It didn't work out well for either of those, two by the way.
BENNETT: It did not. But again, small datasets. So we'll see.
On the other hand, things changed radically sometimes. So in 2004, at this stage, the middle of December, John Kerry was in sixth place in national
polls. He was trailing Al Sharpton among other people and he came back to win easily after winning Iowa. So we could see a huge shake up or we could
GORANI: The question is, who can beat Trump, right?
BENNETT: For sure. That is the only question.
GORANI: And who can? Who can?
BENNETT: Well, I think -- I think there's a number of people. Certainly, I think, Joe Biden can. I think Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.
The thing that worries people from my part of the party, which is kind of the center left, is that we really worry about Medicare for All, which
Sanders and Warren have proposed. That is an enormously difficult political challenge going up against Trump, and we think that could be
really tough. Doesn't mean they would lose necessarily, but it would be a lot harder.
GORANI: Worried why? Because people will think it cost too much? It's unrealistic?
BENNETT: That and also they're very worried about losing their private insurance. In the United States, people are very comfortable with it and
this is a really scary thing to be proposing.
Plus, the cost is somewhere between 20 and $35 trillion over 10 years. That dwarfs every other proposal that's being made by orders of magnitude.
So it's huge and it is problematic in many ways and we think it's politically toxic.
GORANI: We're seeing the stage there where the Democratic debate will take place.
I want to ask you a little bit about Nancy Pelosi. Why do you think she's not sending these articles of impeachment to the Senate right away? What's
her strategy? What is she hoping to achieve?
BENNETT: You know, I don't know for sure. I haven't talked to the speaker of her people about this. I know that they're very disturbed about
comments they've heard, not only from the Senate majority leader, McConnell, but also from the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
Lindsey Graham, both of whom have said they're simply going to treat the trial as a joke and a preordained exercise, and they don't think that
that's what the constitution demands.
So I don't know what Pelosi's hoping to --
GORANI: But why would that change, Matt? Why would that change?
BENNETT: Right. It's a good question.
GORANI: I mean, it's been a highly partisan political landscape from day one. What are the Democrats hoping that all of a sudden Mitch McConnell is
going to say, I've changed my mind, let's call witnesses, I've changed my mind, I'll be an impartial juror?
BENNETT: It's definitely not that, because of what you can say about Nancy Pelosi is she is an extraordinarily skilled congressional tactician. She's
really good at this stuff. So she must have some outcome in mind that's achievable. What you just mentioned, which would be great, is
unfortunately not achievable. So there must be some other midpoint that she's seeking. I don't know precisely what it is.
GORANI: Well, there was this moment when the articles of impeachment passed and some Democrats in the chamber started cheering and Nancy Pelosi,
by the way, I think I've seen that look from my mother.
GORANI: A few times. When I was a kid. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Article One is adopted. The question is on adoption of Article Two.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Basically, that means zip it. What is the issue here? Is the idea somehow that if they gloat that they're taking away from the solemn
nature or the, you know, this is not supposed to be a happy, victorious moment for Democrats?
BENNETT: That's precisely right. I mean she and others were wearing black yesterday. It is an incredibly sad day for America when the House is
forced to impeach the president of the United States. No matter what your political persuasion, you should be sad about that. I am. I think the
speaker is and I think Democrats should be.
They got caught up in a moment of kind of political triumph and she rightly pointed out that that was not appropriate and they stopped.
GORANI: All right. Matt Bennett, thanks so much. Appreciate having you on the program.
BENNETT: My pleasure.
GORANI: And you can watch the Democratic debate on CNN. It starts at 9:00 a.m. in Hong Kong and 1:00 a.m. in London.
Meanwhile, the Republican case in defense of President Trump is echoing in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin slammed the impeachment proceedings in
his annual press conference, but his argument was along the same lines as what U.S. Republicans have been saying.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): This is just a continuation of the internal political battle. One party that lost the
elections, the Democrats, is now trying to find new ways by accusing Trump of collusion with Russia.
But then it turns out there was no collusion. But this can't be the basis for the impeachment. Now, they came up with some pressure on Ukraine, I
don't know what is the pressure, but this is up to your congressman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, Mr. Putin also spoke about a range of other issues as his news conference stretched over four hours and our Fred Pleitgen watched all
four of those hours for us, so many of our viewers didn't have to and he joins us now live from Moscow with more.
So talk to us about what Vladimir Putin is saying about these impeachment proceedings. I mean, these talking points are similar to what we're
hearing from U.S. Republicans.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They certainly are, Hala. And I think from the press conference, and I did
watch all four hour -- I think it was four hours and 20 minutes of it whether it was a lot about domestic Russian politics. There were also a
few segments about Ukraine and other areas.
But I think as far as international politics is concern, that segment that we just had on was certainly the key thing that Vladimir Putin said.
And you're absolutely right. A lot of it did sound very similar to those Republican talking points that we'd heard in the impeachment debate just a
night before. And the interesting thing to me from what we just heard there was the fact that Vladimir Putin said, look, it seemed as though this
was them continuing a political battle against Donald Trump even after the election took place. This was something that was building up for several
years which is, of course, some of the Republicans had said as well.
But then he came out and said they were looking for Russian collusion and Russian collusion wasn't there. So that couldn't be a reason for
Now, Vladimir Putin, obviously, very much admitting the fact that, of course, the Mueller report did find that the Russians did interfere in the
U.S. election, didn't find collusion, but certainly that the Russians were not innocent in all of that. That, of course, something that Vladimir
Putin did not want to talk about.
The second thing which I think is also very significant is that he then said, look, then they came up with some sort of pressure on Ukraine that he
didn't know exactly what that pressure was supposed to be. That, of course, mirroring not just GOP talking points, but actually President Trump
himself who, of course, continues to say that he doesn't believe that there was any sort of pressure on Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president.
In fact, he's sure there wasn't any pressure and he calls it a perfect phone call.
So absolutely right. It certainly seems as though he was mirroring President Trump and indeed Republican talking points as well, Hala.
GORANI: And there was some breaking news out of Moscow today. There was an attack near FSB headquarters. And I understand that an FSB officer was
shot dead. What happened?
PLEITGEN: Yes, right -- yes, right in front of FSB headquarters took place. Earlier in the evening hours of today, there was a man, apparently,
outside of the FSB headquarters who opened fire with what the Russian say was an automatic weapon.
Now, you're absolutely right. They did say that one FSB officer was killed in that attack, at least one other as they put it, was severely wounded.
The Russians, so far, have not said or it's not clear if they know, what the motive was and who the perpetrator of this might have been. Whether it
was a terror attack or whether it was something else in nature.
But certainly looking at the footage, and we were looking at some of it, it certainly seemed to be a major attack. Again, an automatic weapon used.
There was one video where you could hear a volley of shots being fired. People running away. They then had special police forces who had to move
into that area as well. The entire area.
We have some pictures right there, cordoned off for a very long time. It seems some of the cordons have been lifted, some not.
Finally, Hala, we have heard from the Russians, so far, from Vladimir Putin, indeed, himself has been briefed on this incident at another really
interesting fact is tomorrow is actually the day of the intelligence services and the people who serve in them. So certainly, key date and, of
course, today was also the day of that press conference as well, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thanks. It was a day of unrest in India again over that controversial new citizenship law that critics say
discriminates against Muslims.
In some areas, police used water cannon and they also used tear gas. Protestors defied a ban on large gatherings. Sam Kiley is on the ground.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This Delhi's Jantar Mantar, like London Speaker's Corner place where freedom to
speak is guaranteed. Freedom to tweet though has been interrupted. The local internet connections have been switched off, stifling cyber space
these days is a well-known tactic for India's government when faced with dissent.
Marches scheduled for this day's protest against India's new Citizenship Amendment Act in 15 cities across India were mostly banned.
Thousands tried to take part anyway. In Delhi, just those boxed in here were allowed to carry on.
KILEY (on-camera): Delhi's police have been fairly successful in trying to break up these demonstrations, but they have concentrated and allowed them
to do so here at the Jantar Mantar. But the people are adamant that these demonstrations, the protests against this legislation are going to
KILEY (voice-over): Police blocked access roads and cut the mobile internet outside the Red Fort where the march was supposed to begin.
Opponents of the new law which allows migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan to seek Indian citizenship, so long as they are
Muslim, say that it's sectarian and undermines India's secular constitution. The government insists that it's designed to protect
AJIT SINGHLA, DELHI POLICE ADDITIONAL COMMISSIONER: We are negotiating with the leadership. We are requesting them to disperse peacefully. We
have full faith in their leader and they will go. We are telling them --
KILEY: But many remain defiant accusing authorities of threatening their futures.
RITESH RAI, STUDENT: To the morning, acting so undemocratically. People have detained our leaders, they have dragged them from the site and they
have clearly told students to disperse. Otherwise they will face serious consequences.
KILEY: India's Supreme Court will begin deliberations on whether the law does discriminate against the nation's 200 million Muslims and violates the
constitution next month.
On the streets here though, there's no doubt among protestors that it does.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here because I find this act, the Citizenship Amendment Act, completely unconstitutional, anti-people, arbitrary, and
against the basic future of the Indian constitution.
KILEY: India's ruling party, the BJP, has an overwhelming majority in the legislature. And it runs the security forces. So it's able to smother
efforts to fight it online. So it's back to the good old fashioned human voice.
Sam Kiley, CNN, Delhi.
GORANI: Still to come, when battling plastic pollution, creativity is as important sometimes as technology. We'll meet an innovator answering the
call to action.
GORANI: It is easy to get overwhelmed by the challenges that face us with pollution and the climate crisis. But instead of despair, innovators
around the world are breaking down these huge problems. Their solutions, tackle the cleanup and reward those rolling up their sleeves to help.
Call to Earth is our new global mission to protect and manage our environment in a sustainable way. A young Canadian entrepreneur, Miranda
Wang, is answering that very call to action.
MIRANDA WANG, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BIOCELLECTION: The messages we're getting are very clear. By 2050, if we continue at this rate, there will
be more plastic than fish in the oceans by weight.
What BioCellection is doing is creating a market driven solution to this huge problem.
My name is Miranda Wang and I'm the cofounder and CEO of BioCellection.
We turn currently unrecyclable plastics into high grade chemicals, and then from there, we build up to the materials and products that we all love and
depend on every day.
Ninety-one percent of plastics we produce are mostly going to landfill or being incinerated where they contribute to global warming.
We work with these material recovery facilities like GreenWaste Recovery to take the plastics that currently are not recyclable or don't have
We take this material and we're working on creating new markets for them. The solution we've developed targets one-third of all plastics that's
produced every year. We've proven out the process from beginning to end where we take plastics that are not recyclable today like film plastics and
flexible packaging and we've been able to turn them into virgin grade chemicals. That's something nobody has done before.
Recently, we've started learning about the 3D printing space. And one of the things that really excites us is that it's really also a new space
that's evolving. It actually needs new material for advanced manufacturing as engineering performance grade plastics.
So these would be materials that would go into building a car or a rocket ship.
So many people reach out to me every day saying that we have so much pollution here in Haiti and Indonesia, and we just feel it's a sense of
hopelessness. How are we going to clean all of this up?
And one of the things that I see our technology being able to do is enable people to go out and pick up those plastics and bring them back to a
recycling facility in exchange for money.
When you can incentivize humans to go out and interact with the problem and turn it around into an opportunity, that's when people start seeing the
potential behind the solution and not just the limitation of the problem in front of them.
GORANI: Well, we'll continue highlighting those inspirational stories as part of our new initiative as we celebrate the launch of Call to Earth.
You can go to cnn.com/calltoearth for more. You can read features, take interactive quizzes and learn more about people, just like Miranda, making
change. Let us know what you're doing as well to answer the call. Tweet using the hashtag Call to Earth.
We will be right back.
GORANI: Luxury shrouded in history and unique architecture. One hotel deep in the heart of Hungary offers that to travels and Neil Curry takes us
NEIL CURRY, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER (voice-over): The Hyatt Unbound Collection's, Parisi Udvar Hotel, opened its doors earlier this year,
following a multi-million-dollar renovation spanning five years.
The building's remarkable history began in the early 19th century when it was created as a baron's private palace. Unusually, it's featured a
fashionable Parisian-style shopping mall at ground level.
ANDREA SCHWINDT-KISS, PARISI UDVAR HOTEL MANAGER: Giving back this building to the city, we don't want to keep it for ourselves because we
want to see that this is one of Budapest's most important buildings and it's a real gem in the city.
CURRY: At the end of the 19th century, the palace was taken over by a savings bank hoping to impress wealthy clients. It invested a fortune of
its own, hiring the best modern craftsmen of the day.
The signature work of Hungary's Art Nouveau artisans is evident all around from the tile work in the floor, to the breathtaking stained glass atrium
in the central lobby.
Stepping from the public to the private areas, there is still more entrancing features to be found. Adventurous guests can literally lose
themselves within a labyrinth of magical staircases.
SCHWINDT-KISS: It's very unique design because they connect to two wings buildings, so it's kind of tricky. Sometimes guests really don't really
know where they are at the moment because they just come up in one wing of the building and they just get to another one.
CURRY: Visitors from home and abroad can frequently be found wandering through the lobby staring in open mouth wonder before committing the scene
to memory. Or at least their smartphone.
SCHWINDT-KISS: Many people are just coming in, they're just walking through the passage and they stop by the reception. They're telling their
stories that who lived here. A grandma or who had someone had first rendezvous here at the building, so we could write actually a few books of
CURRY: It's become so popular with locals and international visitors alike, that there have been requests for guided tours of the hotel and its
Neil Curry, CNN, Budapest.
GORANI: Finally, if you want to know the biggest star on YouTube, meet Ryan Kaji.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN KAJI, YOUTUBER: First of all, I'm going to test out my sister's shoe. Let's go. So dirty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: He's 8 years old. He started out giving reviews of toys and now does science experiments on his channel. Ryan's World, according to Forbes
Magazine is now YouTube's top earner. Take a guess. Take a guess, $26 million in 2019.
Another child star, 5-year-old Nastya Radzinskaya is third on the list of YouTube earnings. Her videos have been viewed 42 billion times with a B.
There you go. I'm Hala Gorani, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.