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Air Force Leaders Order Probe Of Trump Resort Stay; House Panel To Take Formal Steps On Impeachment Prob; Reports Indicate President Trump Wanted to Meet Taliban Representative at Camp David for Afghanistan Peace Talks; Republican Presidential Candidate Mark Sanford Interviewed on His Primary Challenge to President Trump. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired September 9, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": Sure. He seemed to like the patina of intellectual gravitas it gave him. But also, he wore these sweaters of these universities. He talked a lot about his contributions to them, and I think that did continue to elevate his platform even after his conviction.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So is all of that money, even the money from Bill Gates, even the money from Leon Black, all of the money that may or may not have come through Jeffrey Epstein, being returned?
FARROW: They have not said anything about the fate of that. It's $7.5 million that are in that category of either directed or given by Epstein. What they have said is that they are going to launch an independent investigation, and as we know, Joi Ito is no longer in that job.
CAMEROTA: Ronan Farrow, thank you, as always, for sharing your investigative journalism with us. We always appreciate having you. Great to have you.
FARROW: Thanks for having me, Alisyn. Thanks for covering this.
CAMEROTA: Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN Newsroom with Max Foster is next. For our U.S. viewers, we have breaking news on the canceled talks between the U.S. and the Taliban. NEW DAY continues right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Monday, September 9th, it's 8:00 in the east. And we do have breaking news. New details on President Trump's plan to hold a secret meeting with the Taliban at Camp David. CNN has just learned that Vice President Mike Pence opposed the plan, aligning himself with National Security Adviser John Bolton. Both men raised concerns about holding the meeting on the week of the 9/11 anniversary. Both were overruled by the president. Now this comes as House Democrats will begin a big step forward on
impeachment proceedings. Multiple sources tell CNN the House Judiciary Committee could vote this week on a resolution that lays out the procedures for an impeachment investigation.
CAMEROTA: Also this morning, a new Republican challenger for President Trump. Former congressman and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford says he will join two other Republicans who are taking on the president for the GOP nomination. President Trump has taken notice. He tweeted about Sanford just moments ago. He slammed all three challengers as, quote, "the three stooges, all badly failed candidates." Let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He is live at the White House with all of the breaking news. Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: An interesting little nugget now from Kevin Liptak, our White House producer, on the developments that led to the United States planning, then aborting a meeting at Camp David between the president and the Taliban. Kevin Liptak reporting that Vice President Mike Pence himself was opposed to the idea and aligned himself with the National Security Adviser, John Bolton, in saying they did not want to have this meeting at Camp David with the Taliban.
One of the considerations, obviously, the fact that Camp David is simply seen as a place for peace, a place where the United States holds in high esteem, if you will. Another question, of course, that's been raised over the last 24 hours about this is the timing of such a meeting that was planned, the week of September 11th, the anniversary, in fact, of September 11th. So the news from the White House this morning, Vice President Mike Pence disagreed with the motion of holding that meeting. Back to you.
BERMAN: Joe Johns at the White House with the breaking news this morning. Joe, thank you very much.
Joining me now is a new Republican candidate for president, Mark Sanford, the former governor and congressman from South Carolina. Governor, thank you very much for being with us.
MARK SANFORD, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My pleasure.
BERMAN: Welcome to the fray. Let's start with the issue at hand here, the breaking news. The president had planned to hold meetings at Camp David with the Taliban on the 18th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. What's your assessment of that idea?
SANFORD: It fits with much of what you've seen from this president, which is that he seems to be tone deaf on the way in which messages are received. And so that was true in the former congressional district that I used to represent that went Democrat for the first time in about 50 years based on basically a lot of folks being turned off to the subtleties of tone. In this one it's not a subtlety. It's a big tone blowup wherein they don't take into account 9/11. Are you kidding me?
BERMAN: Would President Mark Sanford hold meetings at Camp David with the Taliban?
SANFORD: I would not.
BERMAN: You are entering the presidential race, you just got in yesterday. You know it's stacked against you, 84 percent of Republicans now favor the president, give him job approval of 84 percent according to the latest CNN poll. So why are you running?
SANFORD: Well, I think we need to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican. I think the Republican Party of late has lost its way. I think we're walking towards the most uncertain financial storm in the history of our country. We're not having a conversation on debt, deficit, and government spending, which used to be the cornerstone to what the Republican Party was about.
I think we as well need to have a conversation about this notion of the way in which we're connected to the world. Are we looking inward or outward? Again, cornerstone to what the Republican Party used to be about was this idea of open trade. It's benefited our nation and our economy mightily.
I think we need to have a conversation about the institutions, the framework of government that I think at times the president is challenging.
And finally, again, going back to tone that we were just mentioning, we need to have a conversation about humility and tone in the office, which I think this president misses.
BERMAN: You have talked about tone some over the last few years, but you're really staking the candidacy on budget issues and fiscal discipline. How are you going to weigh the two?
SANFORD: Well, again, the center of the bull's eye, to your point, for me is the way in which we're walking toward a financial storm that has implications for people's jobs, for their savings, for the American dream. It's amazing to me that neither on the Republican nor the Democratic side are we having that debate. We have a president who has called himself the king of debt, and I think is taking us down a very dangerous road, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat.
BERMAN: It gets to the idea of spending some. Vice President Mike Pence, who was just on an international trip, stayed at President Trump's golf resort in Ireland. It was about 180 miles from his meetings in Dublin. He traveled quite a long way, planes, trains, and automobiles, to get to the meeting. What do you make of that travel arrangement?
SANFORD: It doesn't look right, it doesn't smell right, it seems wrong both at a taxpayer level and optics level. And again, it goes back to the emoluments clause, the idea of are we having the American taxpayer do things that directly benefit the president?
BERMAN: Are we? SANFORD: It would seem that way to me.
BERMAN: So he's violating the emoluments clause?
SANFORD: Again, I can't make the case, I'm not a lawyer, but I would say that's the way it seems to me.
BERMAN: If he is, that would be a breach of the Constitution, that would be impeachable?
SANFORD: It would.
BERMAN: Would you favor impeachment proceedings?
SANFORD: Again, no, I don't. I think it would be a political mistake, frankly, that will have the reverse effect. I think that ultimately elections are the way in which you move from a president that's heading in the wrong direction.
BERMAN: Let me read you the statement that came out of the South Carolina Republican Party. It's not nice.
BERMAN: And you've given decades of your life to this party in that state. They say, let's be clear, this is about Mark Sanford looking to raise his political career from the grave, not him wanting to advance ideas. The simple fact is that South Carolina Republicans overwhelmingly support President Trump and know this vanity project is going absolutely nowhere.
SANFORD: They hit hard. I get it. But I would say two different things. One is, are you kidding me? Are we taking our cues from North Korea now in terms of the electoral process? What we can't say as conservative Republicans is that we don't believe in big media in terms of directing election outcomes, but tell you what, a handful of us in a room are going to decide the election outcome for more than 3 million folks living in South Carolina. And I think that's a mistake.
And so I think, one, it's an awfully anti-democratic process that's being suggested by the party. Two, I think that if you look at the numbers, what's interesting to me about the polls is that about half the respondents say we would like to see the president challenged, we would like to have debate as to what it means to be a Republican. And, again, what they're doing in the state will prevent that. I think it's a mistake.
CAMEROTA: How does it --
SANFORD: And frankly, it doesn't smell right.
BERMAN: What doesn't smell right?
SANFORD: In other words, if you're in the process of winning elections, and you have a chance to stack up a 90 percent win in the first of the south primary which will have implications in the rest of the primaries in the south, you take it. It says to me that they're seeing their support as being a mile wide and an inch deep. The fact that you call off an election in South Carolina when supposedly you might get 90 percent, what's it says, they don't believe that.
BERMAN: Are you saying the president is scared of you?
SANFORD: I'm not saying that. I'm saying there's something wrong with that result because it doesn't make political sense to me.
BERMAN: And it doesn't hurt at all, or how does it feel coming from the South Carolina Republican Party? These are your people.
SANFORD: No. They're not my people. With all respect to Drew McKissick, the people that have worked at the grassroots level who I've gotten to know over 25 years in politics, two terms of governorship, 12 years in the House, a whole lot of elections in between, those are my people. And those are the people that have always tried to watch out for the people who had nothing more, were living in the simplest of accommodations, because they're the folks that are the forget man or woman in the world of politics. Those are my people.
BERMAN: So you're not the only one in the race right now on the Republican side running against President Trump. There's the former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, there's former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh. Have you talked to them?
SANFORD: I put in a call to Joe. I did not speak to him. I did speak to Bill. I called both of them prior to my announcing what I did.
BERMAN: Would it dilute the opposition on the Republican side to President Trump to have three people in the race as one?
SANFORD: No. I think it strengthens it. What the administration has basically said, what the Trump campaign has said is, it was just Bill Weld for a while, it's a voice crying in the wilderness, it's -- pay it no attention. All of a sudden, when you end up with three candidates and three different candidates saying there's something wrong with this presidency, what's going on here is not consistent with the Republican Party that we know about, believe in, and invested major portions of our life in, that's a different conversation.
BERMAN: The president calls you the three stooges.
SANFORD: He's allowed to say whatever he wants. What's interesting to me is that he has a pejorative word for all kinds of different folks, whether that's Rex Tillerson who had a distinguished business career, whether that's General Mattis, whether that's Paul Ryan who was the author of the tax plan that ultimately made its way through the legislative process, he seems to come up with a name for everyone.
BERMAN: I will say it's notable he is dismissing you and other people have dismissed you as well. In any other year if you had a sitting president who was being challenged by a former congressman and two former governors inside the party, I think the reaction might be bigger than it is now. And it seems substantial, yes?
SANFORD: Again, it's natural to the world of politics, which is people circle the wagons. But again, we're making a giant mistake as Republicans if we simply circle the wagon and say we're going with Trump, period. Because football teams across this nation are made stronger by the fact that they scrimmage, the fact that they practice and they get ready for the game on Friday night. If we simply say we're circling the wagons waiting for next November, we will have made a giant mistake.
BERMAN: If you want to bring the football preseason metaphor here in the NFL, teams get injured and they end up losing in the regular season because they're hobbled in the preseason. Are you trying to damage President Trump for the general election?
SANFORD: No. I don't own what I don't own. What I own is talking about the way in we're walking into a crazy financial storm, talking about the way in which I believe the president is leading us in the wrong direction on economic matters, and then you let the chips fall away. At the end of the day the American way is competition. Our ideas are made stronger, our teams are made stronger, our businesses are made stronger by competition, and that should be the case --
BERMAN: Are you trying to make President Trump a stronger nominee?
SANFORD: I'm trying to, again, improve the Republican Party as to what we stand for, because the things that it historically stood for is not where it is right now.
BERMAN: I read Alex Burns' profile in "The New York Times" of you and your jumping in the race. Is it true you took a bus up to New York, were you riding in the front seat of a bus up here because that was the cheapest way to get to New York?
SANFORD: Yes. I'm notoriously frugal. And so yes, it was like $350 for the flight, and it was -- for some reason the train, which I normally would take, was a bit more. And my boys, who used to live in New York, had always gotten in a Megabus. And so it was like $30 for the Megabus. And yes, I spent the same four hours and 15 minutes on the phone that I would have spent on the train. So I think it was time well invested.
BERMAN: George Conway has been working with Joe Walsh, George Conway, married to Kellyanne Conway, works in the White House, a Republican lawyer. Have you been talking to George Conway at all about your run?
SANFORD: I have had a conversation with him.
BERMAN: Has he been supportive?
SANFORD: Time will tell.
BERMAN: He's not supportive yet?
SANFORD: I'm not going to divulge a personal conversation. How about that?
BERMAN: All right, Governor Mark Sanford, thanks for coming on this morning and talking about your candidacy. Good luck in the days and weeks ahead.
CAMEROTA: Thanks so much.
BERMAN: The Megabus is fun.
CAMEROTA: Oh, absolutely. A bus is a great way to travel for $35, can't beat it. Thanks, governor.
SANFORD: My pleasure.
CAMEROTA: New questions about the U.S. government's use of President Trump's private properties. Why was the U.S. Air Force having layovers there? We'll look at it next.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, new this morning, the U.S. Air Force is ordering a review of how it selects overnight accommodations on long international flights. Why? Well, it was revealed that crew members stayed at President Trump's Turnberry Resort in Scotland. This review is raising new questions about President Trump potentially profiting off the presidency.
Ryan Browne live at the Pentagon with the details here. Ryan, lay out what happened.
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, John, it's a bit of a complex issue going on here. But essentially, the top Air Force leadership has ordered this review into how air crews conduct layovers while flying internationally.
Now, air crews often have to spend the night at various airfields en route to places like the Middle East, and recently, they've been spending a lot of time overnighting at Prestwick Airfield in Scotland, which is fairly close to the Turnberry Resort.
Now, the House Congressional Oversight Committee had launched a bit of an investigation into exactly why air crews had stayed at the Turnberry Resort.
Now, the Air Force have reviewed that specific case, said that the actual cost per night at staying at the Trump Hotel was within the rules. But the Air Force is now saying just because something is allowable, that doesn't necessarily make it advisable. In fact, that's why they're ordering this review into how hotels are selected. How high end hotels, as is this the case in Turnberry is selected because of the optics here. The concern that these air crews may be spending their money at hotels
that are a little bit higher end or that have connections to the President, while they have increased the number of nights in Scotland Air Force saying that's because the airfield there is so centrally located, it's 24/7 and has nothing to do with a nearby accommodations -- John and Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thank you for all that reporting and explaining that, Ryan. Joining us now is Rachael Bade. She is the congressional reporter for "The Washington Post" and CNN political analyst. They have lots of new reporting on what's happening this week.
So Rachael, they're back. Congress is back in session, and we understand from your reporting that Jerry Nadler of the Judiciary Committee is going to do something kind of official this Wednesday, which is move forward with this resolution to I guess, begin something official on impeachment?
RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it's a procedural move. Basically, he is going to be authorizing his committee to take these new authorities where they're going to be allowing their own internal staff lawyers to question witnesses at hearings, and there's -- this resolution will do a bunch of other sort of smaller things like that. Let the committee have these close sessions hearings where they can hear really sensitive information potentially about grand jury information if they can get it that was used in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report.
But the point of this sort of, you know, obscure resolution is that they're saying this is their first official step on a path to potentially impeaching Trump. And so they're really holding it up as a big deal.
Now, there's a reason to be skeptical. After the judiciary sort of came out with this, and the Judiciary members started talking about this -- and remember, this is a committee that very much wants to impeach Trump.
I called around to some leadership sources, people who are close with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and I was very much being -- they were very much doling it down saying that this is not what it seems, this is not necessarily a move toward impeachment. Yes, it gives them more authority, but other investigations have used this authority before.
So what I think we're seeing right now and what we're going to see in the next few weeks is very much a collision between Pelosi and Nadler, the pro-impeachment crowd and the Speaker who is very cautious on this and sees public sentiment has not changed and doesn't want to go on this direction.
BERMAN: It is interesting because they spent the weeks before the recess, Chairman Nadler and people telling us they had already begun an official Impeachment Inquiry, basically saying, "This is the official impeachment inquiry. We don't need to vote."
Clearly they want to vote on something, which is why they might be doing this now. The question, Racheal is how far will they take this? Because there are some members of the committee who want to see votes on Articles of Impeachment and think, "Look, we should take this all the way no matter what Nancy Pelosi does here. Maybe we should just vote to impeach the President in committee, no matter what happens." What are you hearing about that?
BADE: Yes. Well, to your first question, you're right on the rhetoric. They've really been all over the map. We heard for weeks and months, that they were trying to sort of grow support for the number of Democrats who would support an Impeachment Inquiry, they have now passed a majority of the House Democratic Caucus, which is a significant milestone, but you're right just before the break, now, they're all of a sudden started saying, "Look, we're already in an Impeachment Inquiry. We're already doing this. We don't need to take a vote. We are already there." Which was contradictory to the message that they were sending before, very confusing, right?
Now to your question about how far they are going to go on this? I think the Judiciary Committee and the members very much think that they're going to craft Articles of Impeachment, and I think they're probably right on that.
I mean, they're going to be having hearings over the next couple weeks that are really going to expand their investigations beyond just the Mueller Report, but also looking at, you know, is Trump trying to enrich himself in office?
You know, what was his role in the hush money scheme to pay off these two women who are alleging affairs with him and 2016? And, you know, I don't see another result other than them putting together some sort of resolution. The question is going to be do they vote on it in committee? Is Pelosi going to be okay with that? And is she going to be okay with just having them vote on it and committee but not on the floor?
Because Pelosi, remember, she's not going to bring this up unless the public supports it. And once again, Democrats have not been able to move the needle so far, to get a majority of Americans to support impeaching Trump.
CAMEROTA: All right. One thing that a majority of Americans do support is tackling the epidemic of gun violence including universal background checks. It has been a very bloody summer -- in terms of mass shootings. These lawmakers are returning back to Congress, the American public is begging them to take some sort of action.
The Odessa, Texas shooting would have been -- could have been stopped with universal background checks. You know, often people who don't want any more laws about guns say, "Well, it wouldn't make any difference." This one, it would have made a difference. So what's going to happen in Congress? BADE: Yes. So today you're going to see Speaker Pelosi and Minority
Leader Chuck Schumer in the Senate, they're going to be having a press conference with the Dayton Mayor, Nan Wally who obviously Dayton was one of the multiple cities that is still struggling and recovering from a mass shooting that happened over the summer, and they're going to be pressing McConnell to take up a House-passed Gun Bill that would basically expand background checks. Again, like you just said, background checks, we have new polling out at "The Washington Post" this morning that shows not only Democrats, but 80 something percent of Republicans also support expanded background checks.
So they're going to be really trying to put the pressure on McConnell, but McConnell says he is not doing anything unless Trump is going to lead on this. Obviously, they're concerned about what the NRA is going to say? What is their base going to say? Even though the polls show the base is actually there.
And the President has just been wishy-washy on this. First, he was with background checks -- expanded background checks -- then he wasn't. And he seems to sort of be all over the map.
And so without his real leadership, it's really up in the air, and personally, I don't see expanded background check is happening.
BERMAN: It does seem that Mitch McConnell, asking sort of privately and other Republican senators, like Roy Blunt asking publicly, basically, they're like, "Mr. President, tell us what you're supportive of here. Let's listen to Senator Blunt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROY BLOUNT, (R-MO): What the leader said this week, I think maybe, it's the second time he said this is, "We're not going to vote on bills on the Senate floor that the President is not willing to sign." The President needs to step up here and set some guidelines for what he would do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: They're basically asking the President for help here.
BADE: Yes, it's funny, you know, some Republicans will argue that if Trump would endorse expanded background checks that his base will turn on him. I actually don't think that's the case.
I think that a lot of Republicans we've seen over and over again, if you look at the past two years, have supported positions that they traditionally would not if Trump steps out and leads on them.
And so Republicans obviously are watching him, if they're going to take any moves in this direction, he needs to be the one who can sell this to the base, and he really is in a position to be able to do that.
[08:25:28] BADE: I do think it's going to be interesting to watch. There's been
a rhetoric shift, I do think with Republicans, you know. I'm not saying that expanded background checks is going to pass anytime soon, but I was talking the other day to Senator Mike Braun, who is an Indiana Republican, super hardcore conservative, and he said, "You know, too often, conservatives don't want to talk about this issue. But if we don't do anything, there's going to be come a time -- there's going to be a time in history in the future where Democrats will be in control and they will pass a law that we hate.
So his sort of argument was, "We need to do something on this." He said he is open to talking about more background checks, though, what that looks like, I'm not sure it's the same as what the Democrats want. But there's a sense that Republicans know this keeps coming up and over and over and over again. And the public support is moving in one direction and it's not in their direction.
So you know, we'll have to see what they do in the next few weeks. But obviously, this conversation is not going away. There's going to be unfortunately another mass shooting at some point and it's just going to keep coming back until they do something.
CAMEROTA: Rachael Bade, thank you very much for sharing all of your reporting with us.
BADE: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: All right, so should Democrats move forward with impeachment with the, you know, obviously first 2020 votes just months away? A House Democrat on the Judiciary Committee is here with us, next.