tv Inside Politics CNN October 15, 2019 9:00am-10:00am PDT
. welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thank you for sharing this busy day with us. blockbuster testimony from a trusted republican policy hand, and yet, again near silence from the gop leadership. fiona hill describes corruption in the ukraine policy. she said her boss john bolton called ukraine a hand grenade
and told her to inform house lawyers. plus a battleground in ohio. health care and guns among the certain flashpoints. hunter biden acknowledges his foreign business dealings but denies his last name is what opens doors. >> what do you say to people who believe this is exactly why people hate washington? a vice president's son can make money in countries where your father was vice president. >> i made a mistake in retrospect as it related to creating any perception that was wrong. and so, therefore, i'm taking it off the table. i'm making that commitment. i will see if anybody else makes that commitment, but that's the commitment i'm making. >> we begin with a very important night and event in the 2020 democratic presidential race. the debate featuring 12 candidates, a record right there in that hall in westerville,
ohio near columbus. it is the first gathering of the democratic contenders since speaker nancy pelosi labeled house officials of president trump a peace gathering. elizabeth warren deserves first mention now because of her rise to the top of many national and state polls. ohio is the perfect setting now for democrats to debate whether the agenda is too late to win back the heartland and win back the white house. elizabeth warren is in the top three. and to ma bernie sanders' first day back since he suffered a heart attack. and hunter biden's debate day on nbc as a way to rebut the president's attacks, but also to say to democrats there is nothing there that would hurt the vice president's election
chances. >> do you regret being on the board to begin with? >> no, i don't regret being on the board, what i regret is not taking into account there would be a rudy giuliani and a president of the united states that would be listening to this ridiculous conspiracy idea. >> you never thought, this might not look right? >> you know what, i'm a human. you know what? did i make a mistake? well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah. but did i make a mistake based on some unethical lapse? absolutely not. >> to westerville first and cnn's mj lee and lisa lair of the "new york times." i don't know if there is a frontrunner in this race, but certainly a leading candidate. biden after the hunter interview, bernie sanders' first did he bait ba-- debate back af heart issues. what's the big debate tonight? >> i think the big debate is
from senator warren. her surge in the polls is at the point where it's become problematic for biden and bernie sanders. so the question is whether people start attacking her with more force than they have in the past and whether she really has answers to some of the key questions surrounding her health care plan. namely will it raise taxes on middle class americans, what happens with union plans, what happens with private insurance. i think she's preparing to have those answers down, because there is a sense that that will be, as it has been in the past, a major topic and those attacks may come for morsefforcefully g her position in the race. >> and, mj, you spent a lot of time following the race. she wants to know the roles they have in the campaign. she wants to essentially tee up a line of questioning, a line of conversation for tonight, but she has to know, to lisa's point, will it raise middle class taxes? when will you be more clear about that?
she has to know, especially with what's happened in the polls. it might be polite but she's going to be a focus. >> that's right, and i think we've seen plenty of signs over the last couple of weeks that for everybody else on the debate stage, they are sort of eager to start going after senator warren a little more forcefully, as lisa was saying, i think because she has been rising in the polls and because the political momentum has been on her side. what happens when you become a frontrunner in a race like this is you get a lot more scrutiny. and i think what's interesting about tonight, particularly if you look at the three candidates that are going to be standing center stage, we ever joe biden, bernie sanders and elizabeth warren. for all three of them, it's sort of a new debate stage, right? for joe biden, it's the first time he's taking the stage since all these questions and accusations about his son really were brought to the forefront. for bernie sanders, it obviously is the first time he's taken the national stage since his heart
attack. and for elizabeth warren, she's taking the stage for the first time as a real frontrunner, a position that she is now sharing with joe biden. if you look at the past couple of debates, if you look at the questions that she is getting out of the campaign trail, if you look at the criticism that she has gotten from some of her fellow democrats, i think it is very clear that probably more than anybody else on that stage, we can expect that she is going to be under fire, particularly on medicare for all. >> and it's 111 days until iowa votes. for others on the stage, we've had the same top three for months. it has moved some. elizabeth warren now nominally -- the polls are very close, but nominally on top. joe biden with her on most of these state polls and national polls. biden has the lead when you get to south carolina. b bernie sanders has dipped a little. but still the same top three. what are you trying to do tonight? >> you're trying to get someone to pay attention to you. i think people do sense some
vulnerability with bernie sanders. he was in the hospital, he had that heart attack. it's important to remember being on a debate is intellectually grueling, but it's also physically grueling. you have to stand up there for three hours, and this is a 78-year-old man who just came out of major surgery. so i think some of the candidates lower down in the rankings and the polls smell a little blood in the water with him, and they're probably going to use this as an opportunity to sort of move up. the question is, can anyone with a dozen candidates on the stage make an impression in that time? and if they do, will that balance be enduring? when a candidate has had what we like to call a moment, it really hasn't stuck with them. and it has stayed in this framework we've seen for months. i think the pressure is on the
four candidates who have not made the debate stage. this is a do or die moment for them tonight. cnn michael warren, rachael bade with the "washington post." they need to get comfortable in the hours ahead. we'll show them to you when vice president biden gets up there and takes his walk on the debate stage. because we're waiting for vice president biden, let's talk about him. his son acknowledging that he probably shouldn't have served on a foreign board, especially in ukraine. his father as vice president had the ukraine portfolio in the obama administration. he says he didn't do anything wrong, but anybody in politics could raise questions about at least the optics of that. here's a little more from him saying -- where he acknowledges his name has opened the doors, and he said if his dad is president, he'll be more
careful. >> i don't think there is a lot of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn't biden. >> why did you leave the board in april? >> it's a five-year term. >> and you chose not to continue? >> yeah. >> why? >> i think it's obvious why. >> this is your opportunity to say why. >> because it becomes a distraction, that i have to sit here and answer these questions, so it becomes obvious that i won't serve on any boards or work for any foreign entities when my dad becomes president. >> most of what the president and rudy giuliani and others have said about hunter biden and joe biden inaccurate, wrong, restless, exaggerated. but he acknowledges there, my name was biden. i got opportunities other people didn't get. acknowledges in hindsight probably bad judgment. does this help joe biden, or is that a clip if joe biden is successful in the republican primaries, it's going to show up in a trump campaign ad? in the democratic primaries, i'm sorry. >> it's interesting to see how
little effect this whole scandal seems to have had on the democratic primary race. they seem pretty much thoroughly siloed from one another. i think there were a few things that could have happened and didn't. i think the biden campaign was divided internally over whether they thought this would hurt them because voters would look at what the president is saying and say, let's just avoid this whole mess, or maybe he's not as electable as we think, or conversely, it could have caused a groundswell of rally around uncle joe, who they have an affection for, seeing him as unfairly targeted. either those two things cancel each other out or nothing has happened. biden's standing in the poll has been very static. >> you see biden walking onto the stage here. he's done this many times but he's still taking a look as he goes. i think you make an interesting point when you use uncle joe, which is how a lot of democrats think about him. i think what's protected him so far on democrats, they just don't buy this. they probably think his son
shouldn't have been on that board but joe biden is not in any way corrupt. no one expects -- does anyone at the table expect the other democrats to make a big deal about this tonight? will one of the longer shots decide this is my play, or has it proved in past debates going after joe biden is not the way to make your name? >> i think it's a question. i don't think elizabeth warren is going to make a direct case about hunter biden. it will be interesting to see if these lower tier candidates try to get attention by going where democrats nationally have not wanted to go at all. they have sort of, certainly on capitol hill, circled the wagons on joe biden on this. it will also be interesting to see what kind of attack. will they make the argument, if this person does make the argument, that it hurts democrats in the general election? or is it, no, what hunter biden did was really bad.
it is of itself bad. if they take the route that what hunter biden did was wrong. >> it started with president trump and is viewed dangerous to be siding with trump. warren on top at 30%, biden next at 27%. it is sanders who has to be worried about this even before the health scare in the sense that he is third and he has a great network around the kuchblt -- country. he has a lot of money in the bank. a path to sustaining a candidacy is there for him. a path to victory has seemed hard to find so far. >> yeah, sanders absolutely another one of the top tier that has something to prove tonight. i mean, like the polls increasingly showing that elizabeth warren is taking a lot of people who once considered themselves in the bernie camp and converting them to her own supporters. he sort of highlighted what he's going to do at the debate over the weekend on the sunday shows. you know, he was out there playing baseball, i think, with
abc's john carl. i had a heart attack, but look, i'm out here swinging a baseball, i'm going to be fine. he said it will take a few days, but he made a sales pitch for medicare for all saying, i was in the hospital. i realized again how important health care is and try to turn it into a selling point. i just don't know if voters will buy that because clearly there is a concern about his age right now. >> but when it comes to messaging, there is no reason for hunter biden to do that interview other than it was a problem that the biden campaign is trying to preempt or trying to stench before it becomes a big deal. it becomes obvious to me that the purpose of the way that interview was done was for hunter biden to say, it's on me. if you're not comfortable with this, blame me. i made a bad decision, don't blame my dad. i don't know if it would work or not, but i don't think it would have happened to begin with if biden hadn't slowed in his rise,
hadn't had problems with dollar earnings, if elizabeth warren wasn't rising up in the polls. there are two trends in progress here, and the biden campaign is trying to take back the narrative. >> the test of such things is, is one interview enough? if you have to have another one, there could be a problem. ahead be expect to come up in, shall we say, a contested way on the stage. remember, the fourth democratic debate is tonight here in ohio. it all starts 8:00 p.m. eastern. if you have a question about the debate or anything else. for anyone at the table today, tweet us usi. why it's getting harder and harder for the republicans to write it off as a partisan or deep revenge stage plot.
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hill. so discrediting what she says will be a hard task, and hill, according to a source, provided lots of fresh strength for democratic investigators. hill testified to a source of what she called wrongdoing in the back and forth of the ukraine policy, a rogue operation run out of the white house, that prompted her to run and tell white house lawyers. the most head-turning quote from her testimony hill attributes to her final boss, bolton. he called the president, quote, a hand grenade who was going to, quote, blow everybody up. step back just a second. these are not democrats. these are not deep staters. these are trump aides working in the west wing, fiona hill very well regarded among republicans for being so tough on russia. a russia hawk, a skeptic of putin, who is now testifying that she saw this operation. rudy giuliani essentially watching a shadow foreign policy
and asked ambassador sondland, who put you in charge of this? sondland said, the president. you can tie to rudy giuliani, john bolton. when john bolton left, all the republicans said how wonderful he was. rudy giuliani is going to blow everything up. go make sure this is documented. john bolton says, i'm not part of any drug deal sondland and mulvaney are cooking up. where are the leading republicans saying impeachment might be too far, democrats might be out over their skis, but we need to get ahead of this. where are they? >> lawmakers are back this week from a two-week recess, so we will get a chance to talk to republicans face to face and really press them on responding to some of these allegations. but i think the big thing from fiona hill's testimony, what she did was she was able to connect
this sort of concern we've seen at the state department level from these officials that a lot of people have never heard of and connect it to trump's inner circle by saying john bolton himself was concerned about this and told me -- told her -- to go to a lawyer and say, look, we think there are legal problems with what's going on. what that does is it shows it's not just democrats that are worried about this, but trump's right-hand folks were involved, knew about it and were concerned. i'm talking to democrats right now on the hill who say they'll need to hear from john bolton. obviously we haven't heard if they're going to subpoena him yet, but i think we will in the coming days. also john bolton, but mick mulvaney she testified was a key figure in all these talks about ukraine and digging up dirt on the bidens. we're really seeing trump's inner circle being connected beyond just giuliani right now. >> to your point, i keep asking the question, i get any republican who wants to say the democrats decided to impeach the
president before they gathered these fact witnesses. that's a perfectly smart political argument to make. it would be a stronger argument if they said, however, some very legitimate questions have been raised here and we want to get the answers in a fair, open setting. so jim jordan, one of the ranking republicans here asked this morning, don't you think it's time to hear from mr. bolton? >> we're getting ready -- we've had 30 hours of testimony. we're heading into our fourth interview. i assume this will be another 8- to 10-hour day. each one offers their unique perspective. if senator schiff decides to bring bolton in, we'll have questions for him. >> complaining about the process, which maybe they have legitimate complaints about the process. but what about the substance? they just won't get to the substance of that's accurate, it's very disturbing, i was in the room and i don't see it that
way, they don't answer the substance. they make a process argument. >> i'm not sure the republicans will be decisive on this front. the democrats in the house have enough of a majority if they decide to move forward in the way we all think they're going to, this goes to the senate. fiona hill's testimony is important because it took ten hours yesterday. do you know how much information can get unpacked in ten hours? the drug issue is interesting. the rest goes to the timeline. it goes to the heart the that the national security council didn't know what ukraine policy was being transferred through a channel? they didn't know, they were upset. that's a problem. as for whether john bolton is going to testify or not, i don't know how he'll respond to that question, but the idea that john bolton during the bush years is
the one everybody was worried about would go do something like a hand grenade, and john bolton is the voice of reason trying to pull everyone back saying, no, you can't do that in syria and you definitely can't do that with ukraine. as for sondland, when we hear from him later this week, ukraine is not typically part of the eu's portfolio. >> to give a guy in the hotel business who is a major trump donor to take away from career diplomats, withdraw the ambassador who was a career diplomat and give it to the career guy. >> besides that list of figures that we just showed up on the screen that the next sort of trench goes into the pentagon, goes into the office of management and budget that the people the committees are going to bring in for questions have knowledge about military assistance that was supposed to move forward and got stalled, and have knowledge about money and financing and how it was
affected by the parallel track. >> i think it's important to watch this and think about this from sort of a drip, drip, drip perspective as well. let's zoom out a little bit and remember what started this all. it was this whistleblower, this anonymous person from inside the intelligence community, probably career, and this was easy for republicans to sort of dismiss as a part of the deep state. once you start getting, again, these trump officials appointed to this office within the executive office of the president saying these things, people like john bolton, somebody who is familiar to, say, fox news viewers who was on that network for several years, it becomes harder. so i'm wondering if sort of republicans on capitol hill are following to see sort of where the public opinion is going, which public opinion seems to be moving in a direction that tracks a lot with sort of the president's approval/disapproval. that's want gonot good for repu
who want to stay on the sidelines. i agree that senate republicans are the ones to watch. >> when we get to wherever that pivot point is, they'll also take it to the public. you have to take it to the public and approve it or the public will complain about the process. can 12 candidates duke it out in the battle for a breakthrough? that could help cut down on those out-of-your-pocket medical costs. call unitedhealthcare insurance company now
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welcome back. debate night tonight. 12 candidates ready to face off tonight. you see them all right there. it's the most crowded stage of the cycle so far, the most crowded primary debate in history. the candidates sure to be asked about impeachment and much more. some of those issues certainly highlight the big idealogical gap among these democrats. to name just a few, health care and how to approach, whether it's medicare for all or something more modest. gun control, whether buybacks are the answer. how to address educational reform, something like tuition assistance or student debt loan forgiveness. climate change, how to support it with something like the green new deal. if you look at the breadth of the candidates, there are marked differences between all of them. some of them are shades, but the
democrats have to first pick what, as in how far left are we willing to go? alexandra cortez has jumped in saying, we should work on ending the gun era, not protecting it. he can say whatever he wants, but guns kill 40,000 people each year. those people deserve action. i'll be fighting for them. mayor buttigieg is at 5 or 6, o'rourke is at 2. do they fight it out, or does this become more about biden, warren, sanders? >> if i were one of them, i would see the opportunity to broaden that debate. >> i would get in a lot of trouble if i said right now you should be.
>> get more of the candidates' views on this issue. i personally have heard plenty about health care at this point. i feel like we spent an hour on it last time. it would be nice to see some distinctions on these other issues. foreign policy, i would love to hear some of the candidates talk about that, obviously a lot going on in the world. very few of these candidates have much experience, and whether they can show expertise on foreign affairs would be illumina illuminating, on trade as well. there are very big differences among the democratic party on trade issues. we'll see how big those trade issues get. we have seen them go after things more explicitly, whether it's on twitter, whether buttigieg is calling out warren and sanders with their approach on health care, so there is obviously an opportunity to foreground some of those distinctions and it's up to the
voters whether they care about those distinctions. >> you would abe a great debate monitor. i'm sorry to be the skunk at your garden party, but health care is likely to come up again, given it's a difference between them. you're trying to break through, including with this digital ad, and you do this for a reason. a digital ad questioning medicare for all, so maybe you could ask about it in the debate. >> mayor pete says medicare for all who want it. that's a much better formulation. >> mayor buttigieg using news clips in that ad, not buttigieg himself staring at the camera and saying, i think they're wrong. the question is how aggressive are you tonight?
>> this is a good place for him to make that argument. ohio is more of a purple swing state. it's more conservative. there will be a lot of people skeptical about medicare for all. so for him to take this opportunity right now to go on stage tonight, put these ads up today to say, look, medicare for all, it's not working. this idea that bernie sanders and warren has, how are we going to pay for it? there is an opportunity where he could break through. >> there is also an opportunity for elizabeth warren to separate herself a little bit, at least rhetorically, from the hard-core bernie sanders' medicare for all version from which everything has sprung. she has an eye now potentially on the general election. at least rhetorically, i'll be looking to see how she answers those questions, not just questions about taxes. what is her plan and how does she want to convey that to voters? >> people have asked this
question for a while, because until now she says, i'm with bernie and medicare for all. people have asked if she'll move away to his left or right. iowa votes. we'll get it before then, i think. up next, a point of friction between the republican majority leader and the president of the united states. art today at prin.
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i'll show you a scene from the debate site in ohio. moments ago one candidate walking in and one leaving. it was joe biden leaving, and walking in ohio mayor pete buttigieg. shaking hands, a little quick, what looks like a very pleasant conversation between the two candidates. they're generally aligned on most of the issues. mayor pete wants to make the generational argument that it's time to find younger leadership. but on most of the issues, they see eye to eye. mostly a happy exchange there. the u.s. official telling cnn u.s. troops have now pulled out of the northern syria town
of bombeam beach. u.s. troops stayed there to combat turkish rebels. now the syrian regime and russia has moved in. erdogan is defending his move into northern syria in a "wall street journal" essay. he calls on europe and the world to help turkey and to help restore peace and stability in the region and to prevent a flood of refugees into the west. that op-ed, of course, comes as the white house imposes sanctions on turkey and calls for a cease-fire. the president threatening to destroy turkey's economy if they don't end that offensive. and mitch mcconnell gravely
concerned that pulling the troops could lead to an attack from isis. now what can be done to prevent a calamity? military personnel blame him for letting it happen in the first place. ryan, take us inside your reporting. a lot of tough words for military officials, special operation forces about the president's order to pull u.s. troops out, a position they see as betrayal of an ally. >> it's almost at the level of vocal criticism we're hearing from u.s. muilitary personnel, especially those special operation forces that had been deplo deployed in syria. these kurdish fighters, while they've been battling isis for years, and now they're seeing these towns they fought so hard
to liberate seeing russia and the regime. their one-time kurdish allies are being killed by syria-backed rebels. ashamed was one word. a syrian officer told us he was feeling ashamed by our failure to protect the kurds. a lot of this stemmed from the fact that the u.s. defended the kurds to pull back in order to appease the turkish government. they also didn't provide the kurds with any heavy weapons, only light arms like ak-47s that they're now use to go fight against a much better armed turkish military using tanks, artillery and war planes. >> fascinating reporting. really appreciate it, adding some important context to this important story. ryan brown at the pentagon. hunter biden says, yes, some of his overseas work was probably a judgment error, but he insists he did nothing wrong.
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i trust em, i think you can too. i know where i stand with my dad, i know where i stand with my family. being the subject of donald trump's ire is a feather in my cap. my dad doesn't have to defend me. my dad only has to love me, and my dad loves me unequivocally. >> that's the former vice president's son hunter talking to nbc news trying to
disassociate himself from any problems you might have with him from his father's presidential campaign. hunter biden insisting he is not and will not be a campaign distraction. >> i'm not necessarily a distraction to his campaign. i'm never a distraction to my dad. but as it relates to actually going and being on stage with him, this is not a family business. everybody kind of thinks that somehow, whether it's a compliment that we're like the kennedys or whether it's a backhanded compliment like you're the trumps, my dad has a job. but that does not mean that i ever had any plans to go do rallies. >> we talked a little about this at the beginning of the program, but it's just interesting. after weeks of attacks from the president who continued his attacks after the sbrinterview
twitter, hunter biden and the campaign knew they were going to do this. they weren't involved in the substance of it, but they knew he was going to do it. on debate day, coming out and saying, yeah, i made some judgment mistakes, but i never did anything unethical, anything illegal, and donald trump he calls a feather in his cap. >> it will be interesting. i think everybody understands you have a family and you can't necessarily control them, but the biden campaign has really struggled to respond to this whole thing, and we've seen them take a long time to come up to the response to the scandal as it began to swirl, by joe biden himself being alternately sort of forcefully defensive and then wanting to change the subject. so, you know, do people see this? do they see a sort of sympathetic figure who is caught up in the middle of something that doesn't have much to do with anything? or does this just become something that he can't put to rest, right? does it become a thing, like hillary clinton's emails, where
there is just always some new rock that gets turned over, always some new question, always some new shadow of, but wait a minute, why is this? >> i just want to know for our viewers you see mayor pete buttigieg doing his walk-through in the debate hall. all of the candidates get a chance to go through and test the microphone and the like. >> his framing of this is interesting. don't expect us to be the kennedys, but we're not the trumps, either. we're not the kennedys but we're definitely not the trumps. for anyone who has followed the biden family, they have had one tragedy after another. the death of hunter biden was devastating not just to joe biden but also to hunter biden, and i think probably the death of bo biden has been devastating to both the vice president but also to hunter biden, and i think you see that as one of the factors in joe biden's
reluctance to kind of throw his son under the bus and distance himself, is that the son is obviously in a pretty fragile space in the last couple years. >> and given what hillary clinton said about the hillary clinton foundation, donald trump was not the incumbent. hunter biden says, yeahs, it wa swampy, meaning ukraine. i want to hear him talk about his name and how he got these jobs, and asking the question, isn't this why people hate washington? >> what do you say to people who say this is exactly why people hate washington? a vice president's son can make money where your father is doing official government business. >> i don't know what to say. i made a mistake in retrospect as it related to creating any
perception that was wrong. and so, therefore, i'm taking it off the table and i'm making that commitment. i will see if anybody else makes that commitment, but that's the commitment that i'm making. >> trying to pivot quickly there and essentially saying jared and ivanka trump. that's what he's saying there. >> but in the biden administration, that opens the door for people to say, why didn't you have these thoughts before? so even though he's making an apology to say, i won't do this in the future, that is an exposure for them. >> they aren't a problem just as hillary clinton's problems weren't a problem for her in 2016. don't go anywhere. brianna keilar starts after a very quick break. have a good afternoon. customize so they'll only pay for what they need. your turn to keep watch, limu.
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is just like our originalhn sandwiches...only littler...so we bought a little ad...on lil jon. little johns, yeah! $3, what?! i'm brianna keilar live from cnn's washington headquarters. more damning testimony out of the impeachment testimony, john bolton describing rudy giuliani as a hand grenade and the pressure on the campaign to describe rudy giuliani as a drug deal. and joe biden's son hunter speaking out for the first time, admitting bad judgment vovinvolg