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WSJ: Trump Pressured Ukrainian President About Eight Times In One Phone Call To Investigate Joe Biden's Son; SUV Plows Through Shopping Mall; Biden On Giuliani Claim: No "Credible Outlet Has Given Any Credibility To His Assertion;" Global Protests Demand Action on Climate Change; North Korea Praises Bolton's Departure as Trump Trash Talks His Former National Security Adviser. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 20, 2019 - 17:00   ET

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


[17:00:01] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @jaketapper. You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues rights now. Thank you for watching. I'll see you Sunday morning.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, refusing to answer. A new report says President Trump pressed Ukraine's president to investigate Joe Biden's son. But Mr. Trump has says it doesn't matter what he discussed in the call and he's dismissing a whistleblower's complaint about him as partisan, even though he admits he doesn't know who the whistleblower is.

Breaking the law, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the refusal of the Director of National Intelligence to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress is illegal as the head of the House Intelligence Committee vows to get it "come hell or high water."

Demanding action, millions of people around the world take part in a global strike that may be the largest of its kind in history, pressuring politicians to take urgent action on climate change.

And car drives through mall. Panicked shoppers scrambled for safety as an SUV plows through at least one store and into the center of a mall near Chicago. We have new information coming in on this breaking news on this story.

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in "The Situation Room."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following breaking news. "The Wall Street Journal" now reporting that President Trump repeatedly pressed Ukraine's president to investigate the son of his possible 2020 rival Joe Biden during a July phone call.

The paper citing sources familiar with the matter says Mr. Trump urged the Ukrainian counterpart to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. That call may be the focus of a whistleblower complaint against President Trump, which is acting Director of National Intelligence is refusing to let Congress see. Also breaking, new information coming into CNN about an SUV that drove through a store and into the center court of a mall near Chicago sending shoppers fleeing for their lives. We're going to talk about the breaking news and much more with Congressman Gerry Connolly of the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committee and our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to our Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta. Jim, President Trump is dodging questions about this call with the Ukrainian leader.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And the White House is still not commenting on "The Wall Street Journal" report that President Trump pressured the president of Ukraine about eight times to investigate Joe Biden during a phone call over the summer pressed on that call.

Earlier in the day, the President did not deny that Biden came up during that phone conversation. All of this is raising questions for Democrats as to whether the President attempted to collude with a foreign power, this time Ukraine, to impact the 2020 election.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): Sitting in the Oval Office with Australia's prime minister, the President struggled to give straight answers about the mysterious government official trying to blow the whistle on Mr. Trump's interactions with a foreign leader. First, the President described the whistleblower as partisan.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's a partisan whistleblower. I shouldn't even have information.

ACOSTA: Then Mr. Trump said he didn't know the whistleblower.

TRUMP: I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it's a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party, but I don't have any idea. But I could say that it was a totally appropriate conversation. It was actually a beautiful conversation.

ACOSTA: Democrats want to know if the complaint is about Mr. Trump's conversation with Ukraine's president over the summer and whether it delved into a potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports Mr. Trump repeatedly pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden during that discussion. Asked directly about that conversation earlier in the day, the President wouldn't answer the question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you discuss Joe Biden, his son, or his family with the leaders of Ukraine?

TRUMP: It didn't matter what I discussed. But I will say this, somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement.

ACOSTA: But the President seemed to invite a Biden inquiry. TRUMP: So somebody ought to look into that and you wouldn't because he's a Democrat. And the fake news doesn't look into things like that. It's a disgrace.

ACOSTA: Reminiscent of Mr. Trump's call on the Russia to find Hillary Clinton's e-mails in 2016.

TRUMP: I will tell you this, Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

ACOSTA: Biden's ties to Ukraine have been a subject of interest inside Trump world for months. President's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, admitted on CNN that he had spoken to Ukrainian officials about Biden after first denying it.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: No. Actually, I didn't.

CUOMO: You never asked anything about Hunter Biden? You never asked anything about Joe Biden and his role with the prosecutor?

GIULIANI: The only thing I asked about Joe Biden is to get to the bottom of how it was that Lutsenko, who was appointed --

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: -- dismissed the case against --

CUOMO: So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.

[17:05:01] GIULIANI: Of course I did.

ACOSTA: Republicans have raised questions about Biden's threat to withhold aid to Ukraine over Ukrainian prosecutor disliked by the Obama administration and alleged that had something to do with Biden's son Hunter business dealings inside the country, an unproven connection.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I looked at them and said, I'm going to leave in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you're not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.

ACOSTA: Democrats fear the President or his associates have essentially invited Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 election, not unlike Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian attorney at Trump Tower in 2016. In 2017, the President defended his son's actions.

TRUMP: Most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research or even research into your opponent, but it's very standard where they have information and you take the information.

ACOSTA: And just like the Russia probe, there are inconsistencies in the President's comments on the whistleblower. The President claimed he hadn't read the whistleblower complaint while saying others have.

TRUMP: No, I haven't. I just tell you, it is -- everybody's read it. They laugh at it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: President tried to change the subject today and announced that the administration is imposing new sanctions on Iran's national bank to punish Tehran for an alleged strike on an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia.

But even the President's own supporters getting back to these questions about Ukraine, are concerned about these new questions about the whistleblower and these possible connections to the Ukrainian president. Three different sources close to the White House earlier today told me, Wolf, that they believe Rudy Giuliani only made these matters worse. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.

Presidential candidate Joe Biden just reacted to President Trump's call for an investigation into his son, Hunter Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDENT: Wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second. Not one single credible outlet has given any credibility to his assertion, not one single one. And so I have no comment except the President should start to be president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju who's up on Capitol Hill. Manu, the head of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff is vowing to get to the bottom of this complaint. What more are you hearing from lawmakers?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the House Intelligence Committee chairman is vowing an extensive investigation, now also warning that he may withhold funding for the Director of National Intelligence's office until they get more information from -- about this complaint. Also warning that they could end up in court and expect a grilling next week when the acting Director of National Intelligence appears before the House Intelligence Committee.

Now, some Democrats are also saying that this strengthens their push for impeachment. Republicans on the other hand have a much different reaction. A number of them are saying there's nothing to see here, there's no issue. The problem that they see are dismissing it outright and are also defending the President.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Again, inspector general found these allegations credible but he had only 14 days to investigate them. So, they deserve a thorough investigation. That's what we're intent on doing and come hell or high water, that's what we're going to do.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): We are getting deeper and deeper into a crisis and I think at this point we're beyond a constitutional crisis. This is a threat to the very sovereignty of the United States and I can't understate how concerning this is.

RAJU: He's talking about a promise to a foreign leader, why is that OK?

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Well, look, that is what you hear through people in the intelligence community who have it out for the President. I don't think that there's any real sincere problem and I have observed the President in situations where he's had discussions with other dignitaries and leaders and I think he represents our country well.

RAJU: Do you have any concerns about these reports about the President making a promise to a foreign leader?

REP. TED YOHO (R-FL): To making promises to foreign leader?

RAJU: Yes, making a promise about something that alarmed this whistleblower.

TED: No.

RAJU: Do you have concerns?

TED: I got to go vote.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU: Now, asked if he had any concerns, the House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy raised and said concerns about the whistleblower saying, is he still working because I don't know anything about him. I've heard rumors that somebody who left. Why did he leave?

And the House speaker had a much different reaction. She said that the President is stepping into a dangerous minefield with serious repercussions for this administration and our democracy. But she also reiterated her skepticism, Wolf, about moving forward with impeachment when asked in a separate interview today. But still very partisan reaction here on Capitol Hill despite the concerns raised by the inspector general of the intelligence community. Wolf?

BLITZER: Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you.

Let's get some more on all of this. Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly of Virginia is joining us. He's a member of both the Foreign Affairs and the Oversight and Reform Committees. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

And as you heard, as you know, "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that in this phone call President Trump pushed the president of Ukraine at least eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigate Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden. How concerning is this? [17:10:04] REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): It's concerning on so many levels. It is not, you know, normal practice for any American politician to do his or her opposition research on their opponent with the auspices and help of a foreign government.

I've had probably 2,000 opponents in my political career. I've never hired or asked a foreign entity of any kind to help me in that business. But he -- we got to remember that President Trump during the summer suspended military aid that Congress had appropriated for the Ukraine.

And we need to know whether there was a connection between that action and the response of the brand-new president of the Ukraine, President Zelensky, who has no political experience and no foreign policy experience.

President Zelensky was an actor on local television in Ukraine and played a man who became president of the Ukraine. And the reality following fiction, that's what happened. And he won an overwhelming mandate. But this is President Trump taking advantage of that.

It's President Trump withholding military aid while Russian troops are still in the eastern part of Ukraine and illegally occupy illegally annexed Crimea. And one has to ask, is there a connection between this request and the answer President Zelensky was expected to give and the withholding of military aid that Ukraine desperately needs.

BLITZER: It's my understanding, Congressman, that these conversations that a President of the United States has on the phone with another president of another country are routinely recorded, certainly by the United States, I assume by Ukraine in this particular case as well. Do you know for sure that there is a recording of this conversation that might at some point be made available to Congress?

CONNOLLY: We don't know that, but I think it is essential given the reports about this conversation that a full transcript of that conversation be provided to the Congress and released to the American public so we can all decide the appropriateness of this conversation and the accuracy of the reports we're reading in "The Wall Street Journal" and in the media.

BLITZER: Well, would a transcript be enough or would you want the actual audio from a tape?

CONNOLLY: Well, obviously, if there is an audio tape, we would like that too, of course. And I assume there is. I assume most of those kinds of conversations are recorded for posterity so that the State Department, the Intelligence Committee, the Pentagon can follow up on it and have a record of what was said so that we can accurately refer to it when we need to. So I'm almost certain there is an audio tape and there is a transcript and we want both.

BLITZER: At least the NSA, the National Security Agency, would record a conversation like that. That's my understanding, but what do you think? CONNOLLY: Yes, no, I'm sure that's true. Because, Wolf, look, the President of the United States doesn't just spontaneously call a foreign leader, especially one that's brand-new and just newly elected. That is prepped. You know, there are memos, staff briefed him on what should be said and what points he should make. Probably there's embassy input in Kiev in terms of what are the interests we're pursuing with the new government. So all of that had to happen and therefore almost certainly it was a recorded conversation and there is a transcript and an audio of it.

BLITZER: You sit on two key committees, the Oversight Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee, together with the Intelligence Committee, the three committees have now launched a formal investigation. They did so earlier this month into Rudy Giuliani's attempts to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Bidens. So far, Congressman, have you made any progress?

CONNOLLY: I don't know the answer to that, but my hope is that we will. I will say, you know, I think what Rudy Giuliani has been doing -- and remember he threatened to do this months ago, I think it is all part of a sorted episode and a sorted presidency and it is something that simply can't be accepted in American democracy. This is not how we operate. It's not how we should tolerate anybody operating. And I absolutely believe this can be added as an article of impeachment.

BLITZER: When President Trump was asked directly today about all of this, he said, and I'm quoting him now, "It doesn't matter what I discussed." And then said, somebody ought to look into Joe Biden. How do you read that?

CONNOLLY: Well, it's classic Trump, right? Deflect, distract, blame it on somebody else.

[17:15:01] Your report just before interviewing me made it clear that he's already contradicted himself. He didn't know who the whistleblower was. He claimed he was a partisan operative. He's not able to really justify either one of those two remarks. And now he's blaming Joe Biden.

And, you know, right now the front and center issue is, did the President of the United States cajole and dangle promises or threats in front of a foreign leader in order to get that foreign leader to provide dirt or potential dirt on a political opponent? That is flat out wrong. It's unethical and it's probably illegal.

BLITZER: Congressman Gerry Connolly, thanks so much for joining us.

CONNOLLY: My pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more on the breaking news. We're getting some -- also getting some frightening pictures of an SUV. Look at this, smashing through a suburban Chicago shopping mall. Stand by. We'll have the latest details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[17:20:51] BLITZER: We have breaking news coming into "The Situation Room" along with some frightening pictures. Look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop, stop driving.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yo, this is not happening right now. What the (bleep).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A sport utility vehicle drove through a suburban Chicago shopping mall this afternoon, knocking done products at Kiosk (ph) and bashing into storefronts. Customers scrambled out of the way and stores went on lockdown. This happened at the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois. The SUV, by the way, made it all the way to the mall center court. Officials say one person is now in custody. No injuries are reported, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

Also breaking right now, late this afternoon "The Wall Street Journal" reported President Trump repeatedly pressured Ukraine's president to work with Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, on an investigation of Joe Biden's son.

The journal says the call took place in July before a whistleblower's complaint that "The Washington Post" reports involves President Trump and Ukraine. In the Oval Office today, the President described his call as totally appropriate. All of this raises plenty of questions for our political and legal experts. And Gloria, this is pretty stunning revelation.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It is not totally appropriate either, Wolf. I mean, you have a United States President pressuring a foreign government to in effect affect the 2020 election and do his bidding against a potential political rival who was doing very well in the polls that summer, if you recall.

And so it's hard to understand that after all we went through on the Mueller investigation, where there was all of this talk about collusion and the President saying there was no collusion with the Russians, here he is saying to the Ukrainians, hey, you really ought to investigate this guy Joe Biden's son and some implicit, although not direct, according to "The Wall Street Journal," although not direct, you know, he's got leverage against these people who are trying to fight aggression from the Russians and need this aid from our country to help them do it. It wasn't mentioned, but certainly it was the elephant in the room or on the call.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR AT LARGE: This is crazy. I mean, just -- I always feel like we need to do this, but I think if we were talking about anything like this with George W. Bush or Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or George Herbert Walker Bush, we would be -- you would be -- it would be hard to conceptualize.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: But isn't that crazy? I mean, from a political --

CILLIZZA: It's not crazy (INAUDIBLE) to him.

PEREZ: -- from a political standpoint, right, if you're the President having gone through the last couple of years and it ended with no charges, nothing happening, you know, why wouldn't you try it again?

CILLIZZA: Well, and that's the thing. He is -- this is what we know of him inherently to Evan's point. He is someone who either is someone who breaks the rules or doesn't acknowledge the rules or stretches them to the point of breaking. He has done that in a number of occasions.

I always remind people when they talk about the Mueller report, just go read the second section about obstruction. There's a lot in there that would make you want -- whether it's strictly illegal or not, make you very uncomfortable that the U.S. President was engaging that sort of behavior, eight times in one phone call to bring this up.

And to Gloria's point, whether there was an implicit or explicit promise of something, he's the President of the United States talking to the Ukrainians. The power imbalance there makes it -- when you're asking for something, it doesn't have to be and I will get you Y thing because it's already there.

BLITZER: Jim Baker, you're the former FBI general counsel. Let me play you a very little clip from this amazing interview last night Rudy Giuliani gave our Chris Cuomo in which Giuliani admitted that he personally, as the President's lawyer, pushed for exactly what we're talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.

GIULIANI: Of course I did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Of course I did, so go ahead.

JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Of course he did, that was quite an admission, yes, last night, and quite an interview. So --

[17:25:00] BLITZER: He originally denied it, by the way. And a few seconds later he said the exact opposite.

BAKER: Yes, exactly. And so it's troubling and alarming and should be shocking to most Americans. And it's part of a -- what I think of as a pattern of corruption that the President has engaged in as well as those around him having to deal -- having to do with their dealings with foreign governments in connection with our electoral process. This should be unacceptable to all Americans of any political strategy.

BLITZER: But is it illegal?

BAKER: So it -- well, OK, so it depends who you are talking about. So I am not going to sit here and say based on, you know, the day of analysis that they committed a crime. But I would -- what I've been looking at and thinking about is the indictment that Director Mueller brought, Special Counsel Mueller, against the IRA.

And remember, he -- you may remember he talked about defrauding the United States of its electoral -- the proper functioning of the electoral process, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 371 conspiracy. So I would be -- if I were Rudy Giuliani, I would be thinking about that and think about whether other election laws were violated.

When it comes to the President, I think it's much more challenging because the President has broad authority under the constitution to deal with foreign governments and foreign leaders. In that in that circumstance, I think you're talking about something different. You're not talking about necessarily a criminal violation, you're talking about potentially an abuse of power and abuse of his office, which would therefore be potentially an impeachable offense.

BLITZER: Gloria, listen to the President earlier today downplaying this controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I don't know the identity of the whistleblower. I just hear it's a partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party, but I don't have any idea. But I could say that it was a totally appropriate conversation. It was actually a beautiful conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you discuss Joe Biden, his son or his family with the leaders of Ukraine.

TRUMP: It doesn't matter what I discussed, but I will say this, somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement because it was disgraceful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: But it really does matter what was discussed in that conversation.

BORGER: Of course. How can you say it doesn't matter what I discuss. Of course it matters what I discuss. He doesn't know the identity, but he hears he is of another party. And this is somebody from the intelligence community presumably.

So the President yet again is saying that the intelligence community is bias, that this is somebody -- he's from another -- how do we know this person is a Democrat. I mean, that's the clear implication here. I mean, it takes you back to, again, the Mueller -- you know, the whole Mueller report where he said it was started by people who disliked him, which was true.

But, again, he's using this as they don't like me, this is the deep state, it started by those kind of people. And it's absurd for him to say it doesn't matter what he said.

BLITZER: I suspect we're only beginning to get the beginning of this. Very quickly.

CILLIZZA: I would just going to say, remember, if past is prologue, remember, Donald Trump to George Stephanopoulos when asked whether he would again do the Donald -- take the information from the Russians and Don Jr. if it's good and I'll take it later this summer. He said, yes, I think I would. So, you know, that doesn't directly relate to this, but it's suggests a state of mind.

BAKER: It is a pattern. It's a pattern of behavior.

BLITZER: And just disturbing. All right, everybody stick around. There's a lot more to we need to cover. Much more on breaking news right after this.

[17:30:00]

BLITZER: We're back with our experts and our analysts.

And it's interesting, you know, Chris Cillizza, that this story about the President speaking about eight times, urging the new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son.

This is in the "Wall Street Journal." It's not your former newspaper, "The Washington Post," which the President always ridicules as the Amazon "Washington Post" or the failed "New York Times." This is a newspaper that's owned by Rupert Murdoch.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Longtime friend of Donald Trump. Which I think is not worth -- it is worth noting that that is the case and then --

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: They broke the Stormy Daniels story.

CILLIZZA: And they also broke -- I was just going to say, they also broke --

BLITZER: To their credit.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Good reporting.

CILLIZZA: You know --

BORGER: Right.

CILLIZZA: I think when you watch him and, you know, he -- today is a great example. He gives a, I don't even know, 45-ish minute photo opportunity. Normally -- by the way, in past presidencies, you walk in, you shout a question, they usually ignore you. They take a few pictures and they walk out. Donald Trump has remade that.

But the most telling thing in there is he says -- he pauses at some point in it. And the President says, this is the -- the media has had the worst week in the history of American society, you people are fake and awful. OK, who is next?

He doesn't mean that. He understands and he -- this is all just schtick as it relates to the media because it plays to his base. He consumes and is more interested in the media than any modern president we have had, and I think things like that just expose that fact.

BLITZER: I want to play an -- a few examples, right now, of Rudy Giuliani. Just before a big story is about to break, goes on television and tries to pre-empt. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: You never asked anything about Hunter Biden? You never asked anything about Joe Biden and his role with the prosecutor?

RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The only thing I asked about Joe Biden is to get to the bottom of how it was that Lutsenko, who was appointed --

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: -- dismissed the case against --

[17:35:03]

CUOMO: So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?

GIULIANI: Of course, I did.

I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign. I have no idea of --

CUOMO: Yes, you have.

GIULIANI: I have not. I said the President of the United States. There is not a single bit of evidence the President of United States committed the only crime you can commit here, conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.

I'm giving you a fact now that you don't know. It's not campaign money. No campaign finance violation. So they funneled it through a law firm. Funneled through a law firm and the President repaid it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Sean Hannity was pretty surprised when he heard this, Gloria.

BORGER: Right. Giuliani wants to soften the blow, tell the story before it becomes the story, put his own spin on it as he did -- you were sitting there in the room.

JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Listening, yes.

BORGER: Having to react. BAKER: Yes.

BORGER: And he -- you know, so he wants to put his own spin on it and therefore, protect the President, which is what he does. It's his role.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: But I mean -- look, I mean, there is a purpose to this and that is --

BORGER: Yes.

PEREZ: -- you know, for the President and some of his allies, they believe that a lot of what happened with the Mueller investigation came out of things that they believe, you know, he was being smeared from things in Ukraine and having to do with Russia.

And so, one of the things that they have been trying to do and -- they've been trying to turn the attention back to Ukraine and they believe, essentially, exact some revenge on the Bidens and pretty much on the Democrats, right?

And so, that's what this opportunity has presented itself. I think Adam Schiff and the Democrats have given them a golden opportunity to now be able to say, what about Hunter Biden, why don't you guys talk about that? And I think, to a certain extent, it's working.

BLITZER: How strong of a case do the Democrats, the majority in the House of Representatives, have right now to get this information? And if there is an audio tape of the conversation between the President of the United States and the President of Ukraine, how likely is it that they would get that audio tape?

BAKER: It depends how willing they are to exercise their powers under Article 1 of the Constitution. The President is clearly playing constitutional hardball with Congress across a range of issues. We saw that with Lewandowksi hearing the other day. We're seeing that now with the current whistleblower issue with respect to not disclosing it to Congress.

He is playing constitutional hardball. He is pushing his Article 2 authorities to the max. Congress has plenty of power to constrain him. The question is whether they're willing and able to exercise it. That's the thing.

And I think, also, back to the -- some of the other points, the President, I think, deeply understands that the impeachment is a political process, and he's trying to win the political debate. He understands it's very difficult for anybody to actually prosecute him, difficult/impossible, and so he is playing that game. I think it's extremely astute. Whether it's successful or not is up to Congress.

BORGER: Yes.

BLITZER: Important point indeed. Everybody, stick around. There's more news we're following. Young people around the globe are taking to the streets demanding action on climate change. Will their voices make a difference?

And we're also getting our first look at the Texas-sized mess left behind by Tropical Storm Imelda.

[17:38:01]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: In the United States and around the world today, young people are taking to the streets, demanding action from grown-ups and political leaders to address the problem of climate change. A student organizer of the global climate strike says at least 4,000 events were scheduled across 139 countries. Some of the marches drew very large crowds.

CNN's Scott McLean is at a rally in Seattle for us. What are you seeing there, Scott?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf, things are starting to thin out here in Seattle, but I'll give you a look at the crowd earlier today. It stretched all the way down the street and around the block.

Now, this is part of rallies taking place across the world as you said from Los Angeles to Melbourne and plenty in between. New York, Boston, San Francisco and plenty more. All of them led by young people.

I spoke to one of the 15-year-old organizers of this rally here in Seattle who said that -- who said that this was really her generation's issue. She said that she felt helpless because, well, it's an issue that's going to affect her generation most, but it's the older generations that really have the power to do most about it.

Now, this particular rally is unique because it combines students who walked out of class and Amazon employees who walked off the job today. Some took vacation days but some got the blessing of their boss, and others just took really long lunches. They acknowledge that their employer is a massive, massive polluter.

Yesterday, the company actually announced that it was taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint down to net zero by 2040. But for a lot of the employees here, they say that is still not good enough. They want to see the company doing things like no longer donating to political candidates that deny climate science. And they also don't want their technology used to help oil and gas companies -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Scott McLean in Seattle for us. Thanks very much.

Coming up, as Kim Jong-un's propaganda machine celebrates the firing of U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, there are troubling new signs about the North Korean's hidden military capabilities.

[17:44:34]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un have

found new common ground disparaging Mr. Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton. CNN's Brian Todd is joining us. He's got more.

Brian, the North Koreans, they seem to be pretty thrilled that Bolton is gone.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's out and out trash talking, Wolf. They are thrilled. And as always, the North Koreans can't resist the temptation to call John Bolton names. But Trump is also piling on Bolton, even as new pictures come out suggesting North Korea could, again, be hiding nuclear material underground.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): North Korea's ruthless supreme leader appears to be gloating tonight, celebrating the firing of John Bolton as President Trump's national security adviser.

[17:50:07]

In a new statement, one of Kim Jong-un's top diplomats says it's a good thing that Bolton, who the North Koreans call a nasty troublemaker, has disappeared from the U.S. administration. The North Korean envoy says he welcomes the, quote, wise political decision of President Trump to reassess how his talks with North Korea should proceed.

Kim may be taking a page from the President's playbook. Trump himself has danced on Bolton's grave in recent days.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The relationship is good, so I think that's better than somebody that goes around and saying we want to use the Libyan model. He said the Libyan model. That set us back very badly when he said that.

TODD (voice-over): Trump has repeatedly criticized Bolton for saying the so-called Libya model could work for North Korea, suggesting Kim's regime could meet the fate of Libya and its former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, who turned over his nuclear material to the U.S. only to see the U.S. help bring him down. Analysts say Trump could be trying to curry favor with Kim by piling on Bolton.

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE WORLD": I think that President Trump is much too eager, and he's much too indulgent with Kim Jong-un. Obviously, the North Koreans now do feel that they're emboldened because they believe, in some fashion, that they got rid of the national security adviser.

TODD (voice-over): Another high-profile American who knows Kim and has met with him shares Trump's optimism about the nuclear negotiations. On Thursday, the eccentric former NBA star, Dennis Rodman, one of the few people on Earth to know both Kim and Trump, made a bold prediction on Fox News.

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION STAR: Kim Jong- un will be in America in 18 to 24 months, I guarantee you.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: Really?

RODMAN: I guarantee you.

KILMEADE: As head of state, or is he going to defect?

RODMAN: No, he's coming to do one thing, to visit America.

TODD (voice-over): This comes as new research has found several hidden tunnel entrances near the main North Korean nuclear complex of Yongbyon.

JOEL WIT, DIRECTOR, 38 NORTH: This is an important part of Yongbyon because close to this are, first, the plant where they produce highly- enriched uranium, and there's another plant where they have produced plutonium; both of which can be used to build nuclear weapons.

TODD (voice-over): Using satellite photos from 10 or 15 years ago, like going back in a time machine, thinktank 38 North found where tunnels were once dug, tunnels that are now concealed by trees. All just a stone's throw away from North Korea's reactors. One underground complex, 38 North says, was, quote, completely camouflaged with vegetation some time over the past six years.

WIT: It could be a deliberate cover-up, or it could be just the growth of vegetation around the tunnel entrance.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, regarding John Bolton, CNN reached out to a representative for Bolton for comment on what Trump and the North Koreans said about him. She did not get back to us.

Analysts say if and when North Korea ever lets nuclear inspectors into the country, we can expect dodging and deception. That they'll never let the inspectors see all of those underground facilities and other stockpiles that they have.

They say that's why the U.S., first, has to first get a full declaration from North Korea of all the weapons and facilities they do have, although they expect the North Koreans will not be truthful about that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, I understand that President Trump has now spoken about his recent meeting with the parents of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died shortly after being released from North Korean testimony. Tell us about that.

TODD: That's right, Wolf. President Trump, today, acknowledged that he had dinner with the Warmbiers at the White House last Saturday night. Trump said about Otto Warmbier's detention in North Korea, quote, people should have moved faster. He said, with hostages, you have to move fast, sometimes it's too late, end quote.

Warmbier, as we know, was in North Korean custody for 17 months. He went into a coma. We have never been told specifically how that happened. He died about six days after being returned home in 2017. The President, today, is saying people didn't move fast enough to get Warmbier out.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you. Brian Todd reporting.

There's breaking news next. New details emerging right now, President Trump's pressuring Ukraine's president to investigate Joe Biden's son.

And Biden is now responding to the breaking news, taking sharp aim at the man he wants to replace in the White House.

And we're also getting some new information about an SUV smashing through a suburban Chicago shopping mall.

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[17:54:11]

BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Eight times. That's about how often President Trump reportedly pressured the Ukrainian president during one phone call, urging him to investigate the son of his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden. This as Mr. Trump dodges and downplays growing questions about that call and a secret whistleblower complaint.

Hell or high water. The House Intelligence Committee Chairman is vowing to investigate that complaint, despite the administration's refusal to hand it over. Tonight, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is suggesting the nation's top spy is breaking the law by stonewalling.

Taking it to the streets. Millions of people rally around the world, demanding action to save the planet from the climate crisis. Will the global strike make a difference?

And Imelda's wrath. Historic flooding forces hundreds of rescues as parts of Texas are swamped by more than three feet of rain. CNN is in the disaster zone, where the water is high and the damage is worse.

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We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.